By Lindsey Rae Vaughn
A big decision was made at the Johnson County Commissioners meeting, held on Tuesday, March 28.
The commissioners voted 2-1 to build the new county office complex adjacent to the square.
Vice chairman Fred Meyer presented numbers for each potential property: the property on Highway 45 North and property on the square and surrounding areas.
At the Highway 45 North property, for five acres, it was going to cost $253,000 for purchase of the land and demolition. There was also an option to expand for $15,000 per acre.
For the square and surrounding properties, which totals 2.5 acres, the cost for purchase was going to cost $674,000.
All commissioners expressed how difficult this decision was.
“The easiest route is 45 north,” chairman Ernie Henshaw said.
“I can’t make my whole decision on that,” Henshaw said, referring to cost.
“Cheapest is not always the best way to go,” commissioner Gary Brumley said.
“We need to move on,” Meyer said, referring to the decision of location.
There was some light debate from commissioners and those in attendance.
A few people said it was for the good of the county to keep it by the square, mentioning the square would die without county offices there.
“There’s no question, we bring traffic to the square,” Henshaw said.
It was also mentioned that the majority of Johnson County residents had voiced their opinions in favor of keeping the complex on the square.
A concern of cost difference was also noted.
Meyer made a motion to purchase the property on Highway 45 North. He did not receive a second.
Then, Brumley motioned to purchase property on and surrounding the square for $674,000. Henshaw seconded that motion. Brumley voted aye, Meyer voted no and Henshaw voted aye. The motion passed.
After the motion was complete, a few in attendance applauded.
One of the property owners contracts on the square is still pending, but the offer was included in the $674,000 number.
“We are going to stand with that location and move on to other things,” Henshaw said.
Later on in the meeting, Henshaw discussed what the next step was in moving forward with the county office complex.
He said they would be looking at financing and working on a building layout.
It is hoped that the front of the building will be facing the square.
“I think it’s going to be a good thing. I feel like this is where we belong,” Henshaw said.
“I felt like this was the proper thing to do,” Brumley said.
“Now we got to work on the price of the building,” Meyer said.
Joseph Pike opened the meeting with prayer.
The commissioners approved the minutes from the last meeting.
A University of Illinois lease agreement was tabled, due to pending questions.
The commissioners now have a list of three of the four quadrants of the county missing 911 signs.
Henshaw said he is going to get quotes from three different sources to make the signs: Pope County, Goreville School and a sign company.
The commissioners hope to get it approved at the next meeting.
The highway bills were paid in the amount of $27,704.52. The county bills were paid in the amount of $28,984.32.
Clerk Robin Harper-Whitehead reminded everyone there is an election on April 4.
Jim Haney from ESDA reported that they are required to put together a local emergency planning committee, LEPC. It needs to be in place by Oct. 1.
The commissioners should be receiving an audit report at the April 25 meeting.
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11 at 8:30 a.m.