Zahm presents two-district map to Henry County Board

Mary Davidsaver
Henry County Courthouse from a hot-air balloon

After three meetings and public input from around the county, Jon Zahm, chair of the Ad Hoc Reapportionment Committee, presented a two-district map to the Henry County Board.

He summarized the discussion and explained that the map was the result of a split decision, a 3-out-of-5 vote.

He characterized it as “a fair and even split with two equal sized districts” that was compact, contiguous and kept things together; cities and townships were not divided.

“Let the people pick their representatives, not the representatives picking the people,” he stated.

As to the number of representatives, the choices considered were: 12, 20 and the current 24. Although his personal preference was 12, the two-district map would divide 20 members between the north/south districts.

During public comments at the beginning of the meeting, Raymond Elliott of Atkinson, reminded the board that originally there were only 20 members.

He asked the board “to represent the people at the least expense.”

Before the 15-7 vote to hold over the two-district map for the May meeting,

Board Member Tom Steele attempted to amend the motion. He felt that the full board was obligated to discuss a three-district map along with the two-district one. As a result of a tied 11-11 vote, the amendment did not carry.

Gov. Pat Quinn has extended the deadline for a final decision on reapportionment until after the July board meeting when it must pass by a two-thirds vote.

In other business, the board:

• Announced the county-wide electronics recycling day will be held at the highway department from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 11. Volunteers are needed.

• Proclaimed May as Motorcycle Awareness Month.

• Learned that the daily rates for Hillcrest Home’s skilled care are the lowest in a several county area.

• Granted a variance to extend the hours for the sale of liquor.

• Passed an ordinance and a resolution to provide for public transportation in Henry County.

Mike Zerull, Executive Director of Abilities Plus, reported that an average of 1,200 trips per month originate in Kewanee. A hub in Geneseo could be considered.

• Learned that the total expenses for March were $1,765,448 with revenues of $1,931,548, resulting in a revenue surplus of $166,100. Year-to-date expenditures continue to hold at levels below what would be expected, said board members.