County Board Hears from Wind Energy Provider

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Published on February 18 2014 11:02 pm
Last Updated on February 19 2014 1:25 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

An alternative energy firm is looking at Effingham County as a possible site for electric transmission lines that would distribute electricity generated by wind energy.

Rick Cornell of Grain Belt Express Clean Line Energy said they're looking at a 750-mile project that would generate 3,500 megawatts of electricity; enough, he says, to provide service to more than one million customers.  Cornell said one route being considered would include the northern part of Effingham County.  He said the firm would pay the County $7,000 per linear mile for up to 20 years as part of a "memorandum of understanding" regarding the transmission line being located here.  Deals with affected landowners where the transformer towers would be sited is a separate matter.

Cornell said there would be four to seven structures per mile, and doesn't know whether the transformer towers would be "lattice units" or the monopoles more commonly seen.

County Board Chairman Jim Niemann said he and Board Member Jeff Simpson had met Cornell at a meeting elsewhere and invited him to make a presentation to the full Board.

The Board also passed a non-binding resolution opposing any idea of a progressive income tax for Illinois, rather than the flat tax now in place.  Also approved was an award of a bid for new roadway signage throughout the county and in most other taxing bodies in the county.  More than 2,500 signs were purchased from the low of three bidders for $136,097.  The funds will be reimbursed with state and federal dollars, if the County oversees the replacement of all of the signs in the various other municipalities, as well as in each township.  The City of Effingham is an exception since it has a population of more than 5,000.

The Board approved a $20,000 contribution from the county's revolving loan fund to Holli's Flour Shop on Jefferson Avenue in Effingham.  The funding will allow the purchase of additional equipment and the hiring of another part-time staff member.  Also approved was a property tax abatement for Continental Mills, the company acquiring the former Krispy Kreme batch plant from Harlan Bakeries in the City Business Park.

Board Member Rob Arnold reported that the County 377 Board decided at last week's meeting to award its funding to ARC Community Support Systems.  Heartland Human Services again this year applied for at least some of the funding, but Arnold said ARC made the strongest presentation.

Chief Deputy Sheriff John Niccum reported good work by the correctional officers in the county jail, saying the jail facility is in good shape, and said the correctional officers have worked hard on providing proper medical care as needed.

Niccum also reported that he worked with audit firm West and Company on the special audit of the sheriff's department requested by the County Board, and said he was able to present the auditors with all of the information they requested.  Niemann said after the meeting that he thinks the results of the audit might be available sometime this week.

Niccum also said he's working with the source of grant funds for the acquisition of radios he said are "sitting on the shelf" and checking to see how they could be used.  He's talking with other agencies that might utilize the radios since they are Starcom compatible, the system now being used by the County, the City and State Police.

The County Board met in closed session about an item of litigation, but there was no action on the matter.