Henry County Board takes new approach for HVAC project

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic

The Henry County Board met Thursday March 17.  

During the previous month's meeting, the Administration subcommittee was presented with the single bid for replacement of the aging HVAC system in the courthouse complex.  The lone bidder presented a $6.2 million price tag for the project, which was summarily rejected. 

County Administrator, Erin Knackstadt went back to the drawing board, and at Thursday's board meeting, a presentation was given by Shey Bauer of Daikin.  Daikin would act as the general contractor on the project, and utilizing co-op purchasing, quoted $5,625,000  for the entire Courthouse and jail complex.  Some of the advantages to be realized using Daikin would be the free use of chillers should the ancient cooling system let the county down this summer.  The project is anticipated to begin in August, with lead times being up to 30 weeks. 

Henry County Courthouse

Paying for the project would entail a combination of $2.1 million from the American Rescue Plan funds, $500,000 from the tort fund. another $$500,000 from the Public Safety Fund, and the balance from the General Fund, which Knackstadt noted had grown to $8.4 million, anticipating the necessity of extensive Courthouse repairs. 

The courthouse boiler was installed sometime in  the 1950's from Kewanee boiler.  The unit is so old that replacement parts cannot be located.  When the boiler failed in February, a used part was located off a junked boiler they found. Knackstadt referred to holding the ancient system together with "bubble gum and duct tape". The Board voted to replace the HVAC system with a vote of 18-1, with Ned Richardson dissenting.  Shawn Kendall was absent. 

Sheriff Kerry Loncka took the opportunity during the meeting to congratulate six Sheriff's department employees that were to retire.  Those employees were Jim Kessinger, Joe Bedford, Mel Ingle, Otis Brown, Ron Cervantez and Nancy Lessard. 

Approval of upgrades and refurbishments of Bishop Hill 1 and 2 wind turbine projects  was also done.  The wind turbines will have upgrades to the gearboxes inside the turbine heads, as well as replacing the hub and the blades with longer ones.  This will not require the towers themselves to be brought down.  Additional fees for the project are estimated to be $640,000.  Dwayne Anderson was the lone dissenting vote, and Kippy Breeden abstained.

The Regional Office of Emergency Management will be operational in late May or Early June,  This is the former Health Department building south of Kewanee that will be used for disaster preparedness.  

Jan May asked the board on behalf of Hillcrest Home for $13,478 to purchase materials to build a a second water building.  The maintenance department will put the building up.  There are 73 residents and no Covid.