Live Updates from Fairfield Mayor Mike Dreith
September 14, 2021 Mayors Report
Here is tonight’s Mayor’s Report:
The Historical Society Cemetery Tour was once again a huge success. In part it was because the city’s workers pitched in to make Maple Hill look good. It is our goal to make it that presentable year-round. In that vein, I am asking the Cemetery Committee to call a meeting to examine some of the roads inside the property.
The owner of the Briarwood Hotel has paid a total of $7,735.70–but did not totally satisfy payment of owed hotel-motel taxes. They have not paid for all of 2021.
Today was Libby Lingafelter’s first day in her role as our Economic Development Coordinator and in charge of the Chamber. She will be included in a weekly meeting concerning social media and our web page with Claire Vaughan. She will also be included in a monthly meeting concerning derelict properties in town. Her first challenge will be organizing our efforts to write and submit a state grant announced last week by the Governor. We will submit to be included in the $50-million dollar Rebuild Illinois Main Street and Downtown Capital Program. We will work with merchants to develop a plan.
Fairfield firefighters had 51 total calls in August, 39 of which for EMS Assists. There were two structure fires, a cooking fire and a couple of assists to other agencies. Our firefighters trained on fire behavior and forcible entry at a burn site.
Police report five felony arrests in August with seven misdemeanors and seven warrants served. There were 11 motor vehicle crashes with 74 traffic stops and 26 traffic citations written.
With the retirement notice from Denny Mitchell in the Street and Bridge department, I decided to move quickly to post his position so bidding inside the union can run its course and Robert Kamp can start training his new team member. There are currently four members of Kamp’s department. They face a daunting task daily in keeping up with the city’s streets and bridges.
August 24, 2021 Mayors Report
The city has pitched in to mow the area formerly known as Lakeside Lake this summer to help the Park District and prevent an eyesore. When the dam was breached several years ago, the area was designated as a “wetlands” area. I have contacted Congresswoman Mary Miller for an appointment to discuss Lakeside. It is the first step in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to change the designation so we can eventually restore the lake.
Our environmental legal counsel Peter Trimarchi has recommended an environmental consulting engineering firm to the city for the continuing clean-up of Airtex Plant 1. It is vital to keep the pressure on the owners and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Very little has occurred in 2021 at the site.
I’ve asked our garage staff to study how we might be able to utilize thousands of gallons of diesel fuel currently being stored next to the abandoned city power plant. The fuel was intended for the diesel turbines inside the facility which are no longer operable.
I showed representatives of Rides Mass Transit properties in town last week as they prepare to construct a new area headquarters for their operations in Wayne County. The proposed building will be an operations/garage facility funded by a Rebuild Illinois grant.
Additional personnel have been assigned to the Maple Hill Cemetery for the rest of the summer and fall to keep up with grass mowing/trimming. In the meantime, I have told workers not to use weed control products around tombstones. We, of course, want the cemetery to be in great shape for the upcoming Historic Society cemetery tour on September 10-11.
We will be breaking ground for the new T-Mobile building near Wal-Mart on Friday at 11:00 a.m.
August 10, 2021 Mayors Report
Claire Vaughan will premiere our new website at the August 24th city council meeting. She would have been ready tonight, but I threw another level of complexity at her when I decided to combine the city and chamber home pages into one site.
The IMEA will meet with the Gas Committee on Monday, August 30th at 10:00 AM. The topic will be whether the city is interested in fixing (or hedging) a price on our natural gas volume. The city historically has not hedged. The legislative committee has announced it will meet on Wednesday night at 6.
The air conditioning unit at our police department literally exploded this week. While the 9-1-1 dispatching area is on a separate unit, the suggested solution could exceed $15,000.
I am exploring grant opportunities for an idea forwarded by Alderman Reever to build a limited number of camper slots on city property in Southwest Park. Each spot would have electric and water hook-ups for visitors to the city. The airport sold 35,349 gallons of jet fuel since July 1st for a net profit of $12,372.
The fire department responded to fires in three structures in July. There was also a vehicle fire and one prompted by cooking. Chief reports 31 EMS assists and coverage for the fireworks and county fair events like the demo derby and motocross. The police department made five felony arrests and issued 10 warrants. There were 11 motor vehicle crashes and the department made 76 traffic stops with 17 citations written. The department also alerted technicians to repair storm sirens at FCC and on Mill Street. Both are now back in service.
We have 8 applicants for the new Coordinator of Economic Development position which will be a city employee with Chamber of Commerce responsibilities. Tyler and two member of the chamber’s executive board will help me interview.
July 27, 2021 Mayors Report
There are some fascinating things happening in the real estate business in Fairfield and Wayne County. A check with the Supervisor of Assessments’ office last week revealed there were 56 transfer declarations (property sales) in the county for June, the most in ten years. Further, the 309 sales that have been filed so far this year puts the county on a record pace.
The Fairfield Police Department has purchased an electronic data collector for analyzing traffic patterns in the City of Fairfield. The device monitors traffic volume and speed, which will allow more effective traffic enforcement by officers. Recently, a 24-hour monitor of the 400 block of East Main Street indicated a 75% compliance rate. The software analyzes data and provides suggested time periods for directed traffic enforcement. The Police Department will be using the device for both citizen complaints and improving traffic safety.
I have instructed legal counsel to notify several landlords of former businesses that the city will be pursuing condemnation of their properties. The buildings are eyesores, and their restoration would cost more than the current value of the building. Once they are notified, we will be bringing each to the council for condemnation action.
My examination of city ordinances finds we do not have one specifically dealing with conflict of interest. That is a problem since almost every federal and state grant application requires such an ordinance. I have asked legal counsel to research this issue, so the city does not miss out on current and future grant opportunities. I also will be asking the Gas Committee to meet with me and representatives of the IMEA to discuss fixing (or hedging) a price on our volume. Historically, the city has not hedged. It is my belief we should strongly consider this practice to protect ourselves from upward swings in the market price for natural gas. We are currently “unhedged” with zero volumes covered by “fixed prices.”
And…This afternoon’s Municipal Court proceedings resulted in $2450 in fines for inoperable motor vehicles, weeds, dogs running at large and nuisances on private properties. It was the highest amount of levied fines in the brief existence of the city court.
July 14, 2021 Mayors Report
I am meeting with Tina Carpenter, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Illinois on Tuesday afternoon, July 20th to discuss Fairfield and future expansion of the Carbondale-based organization. This is a very preliminary discussion to see if Fairfield could position itself for a future center.
Police Chief Richie Fulkerson was sworn in yesterday (Monday) morning by City Clerk Tina Hutchcraft. The Fairfield Police Department had three felony, seven misdemeanor and seven warrant arrests in June. There were 29 warning tickets handed out for local ordinance violations with 12 citations. The department was particularly active in traffic enforcement with 59 stops netting 26 citations.
Fairfield firefighters made 51 runs in June, 41 of which being Emergency Medical Service assists. FFD also toured the Fairfield Memorial Hospital expansion and did training with the ladder truck at the site.
The owner of the Briarwood Inn of Fairfield has been ordered to appear at city hall tomorrow (Wednesday) with records of every occupancy dating back to April 2020. The hotel owed $6194 in previous hotel/motel taxes.
We have received 600+ surveys here at city hall from Fairfield residents asked about the need for a high speed fiberoptic network in the city. The deadline has been extended until tomorrow (Wednesday). There will be a drawing next week for the 55-inch television set donated to help response.
I am disturbed to learn that Crimestoppers of Fairfield and Wayne County did not have one useable tip in the last 12 months. This program was formed in 2002 and could be a force in helping our law enforcement officers develop leads to capture and prosecute criminals. I am asking our local media to help with news stories about the program and its value. The fund balance has now swelled to $54,000.
June 8, 2021 Mayors Report
Aldermen Eckleberry and Lisenbee joined me to tour the city-owned “Garment Factory” or Airtex Plant 3 yesterday, meeting with tenants. The roof of the facility is in disrepair. Cost estimates are north of $100,000 and were last gathered five years ago. The facility costs the city nearly $20,000 annually in property taxes, insurance and mowing. We need to determine an exit strategy.
There was a meeting concerning Atkinson Forest hosted here at City Hall on May 26th. The meeting ended without any agreement between the parties. Members of the Atkinson Forest Task Force and the Park District attended the meeting.
The city is in the process of asking for clarification concerning land near the water pumping station and the side channel reservoir which would be used for brush and timber harvested by commercial companies in the city. If the plan is approved, contractors would pay a one-time annual fee of $2000 to gain access.
The Fairfield Police Department reported 77 traffic stops during May with 32 citations written (a 100-percent increase over April numbers). Officers also gave property owners seven warnings and eight citations for local ordinance violations. Work on the ADA grant continued at the police department with 85-to-90% of it complete including the automatic lobby doors, bathroom alterations and parking lot drop box. The box will allow citizens to deposit their utility bill payments instead of climbing the city hall steps.
Fairfield Firefighters responded 48 times in May with 43 being EMS assists.
We are planning to renegotiate the agreement between the Wayne County Humane Society and the city tomorrow (Wednesday June 9th) at 2:00 p.m.
I will join City Clerk Tina Hutchcraft and some downtown businesspeople will be meeting at 7:30 this Saturday morning to pull weeds from around businesses on the public right-of-way. We will meet at Freedom Park. Everyone is welcome.
“Coffee With the Mayor” went well Monday morning at Five Brothers Café. I’m planning on being at Barbwire Grill on Monday July 5th.
May 26, 2021 Mayors Report
The city received word late last week from the Illinois Department of Transportation that the resurfacing of Route 15 through Fairfield will not occur as planned this summer. The engineer in charge of the project said additional design work and acquisition issues forced the delay. The project is now tentatively scheduled for a November bid letting with work starting in 2022.
I am working on a plan which would once again give commercial tree services a place to take their logs and brush. The city council stopped the practice at the city dump near the street and bridge department on the southeast side of town. The plan, which would come to the council for its approval, would require the tree services to pay for the ability to dump on another site east of town.
With the help of Dr. David Mills and Alderman Coale, we will restart talks about Atkinson Forest. The plan would not require city funds. Our first meeting is set for tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 3:00 p.m.
Aldermen have been asked by the Mayor’s office to submit five properties in town in violation of city ordinances for junk, abandoned cars or inadequate care. Today in Municipal Court, six cases were heard involving dogs and fighting. Fines were assessed in each case.
Street and Bridge Lead Man Robert Kamp had successful surgery last week for dog bites he suffered in April. He will require another surgery for his hand. The dog attack was addressed yesterday in Wayne County Circuit court. Judge Mike Molt ordered the three dogs involved in Kamp’s attack to be euthanized which occurred late yesterday afternoon. The owner of the dogs was fined $2000 in Municipal Court today plus court costs. In a sidenote, I have asked legal counsel to draft an ordinance which would prevent dog ownership for those convicted of allowing vicious dogs to roam our streets.
In a related matter, we will be discussing the continuation of our annual contract with the Wayne County Humane Society very soon. The dog attack exposed the need for some finetuning of the contract.
The Fairfield Municipal Airport reports 210 operations over the last six weeks with the majority coming from our ag operator. The airport manager says he even had one couple fly in just to eat lunch at Jovalou Cuisine in downtown. While they were here, they purchased $210 worth of fuel for their plane.
And finally, I will be hosting my first “Coffee With The Mayor” on Monday, June 7th at Five Brothers Cafe from 7:00-9:00 am. Each first Monday of the month I will be at a local restaurant so citizens can meet with me and discuss their ideas and concerns.