Saturday, June 15, 2019

Commissioners approve Depot personnel pay

The Johnson County commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting Monday in which they unanimously approved to assist in the funding of an employee for the Forman Depot Museum.

Johnson County agreed to contribute $100 a week for 22 weeks to help fund the pay of a Depot employee.

Working together with the Johnson County chamber of commerce and the City of Vienna, the move was viewed as participation in the promotion of tourist activities in Johnson County. Sitting adjacent to the Tunnel Hill State Trail in the Vienna City Park, the Forman Depot Museum provides a history of the area’s railroad activities with displays, photographs and railroading artifacts as well as brochures and information on the many attractions in the county.

The commissioners agreed in June that staffing the Depot with a knowledgeable employee to promote the tourism goals of Johnson County would benefit the area. At their June 17, meeting, the commissioners approved a motion to enter into a joint agreement between the county, the chamber and the City of Vienna to support staffing the Depot until December. According to an article written by Gary Hacker of the Johnson County Genealogical and Historical Society, the Forman Depot is more than 100 years old and the last “restorable” depot remaining from the Johnson County communities once served by the railroads.

“We were told in 1999 by a representative of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Collectors Club that the Forman Depot was the only wood framed depot of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad that remained in restorable condition in Illinois south of the St. Louis, Missouri area,” Hacker said in the article. “And they were very pleased to see the people of Vienna and Johnson County were working together to save it. The Forman Depot is the last remaining of fourteen depots that were once located in Johnson County.”

Also taking place Monday at the Commissioners’ meeting was a discussion on how to move forward with nuisance complaint cleanups. A Nuisance Ordinance, which allows the county to take measures to regulate the unlawful accumulation of garbage and debris within the unincorporated areas of Johnson County, was passed last year and now has several complaints filed under it. The commissioners discussed the balance between the cost of cleanup and the total worth of properties requiring cleaning. The use of community service workers was suggested as well as securing grant funding for larger projects, such as removing structures. In several cases, the liens on properties were reported to be greater than the worth of said properties. No action was taken.

Before moving into an executive session, the commissioners were questioned on the residency requirements of county employees. It was determined that outside of the sheriff’s department, no such regulation exists requiring an applicant to reside within the county. Commissioner Ernie Henshaw said it was his personal opinion that if two equally qualified applicants applied for the same position and one was a resident while the other was not; he would wish to hire a resident of Johnson County first.

“That’s just my personal belief,” Henshaw said.

The July 22 minutes were approved as well as the county and highway bills for the amounts of $41,366.55 and $163,597.01 respectively. The next Johnson County commissioners’ meeting is scheduled for August 19, at 3:30 p.m.

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