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Residents Express Concern To County Board Regarding Troy Fire Protection District

By Jake Leonard

The Madison County Board met on Wednesday, March 16 in the Nelson Hagnauer County Board Room.

Robert Werden, Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools, spoke to the accomplishments of several girls who had recently participated in the state tournament for wrestling. The state finals were held in Bloomington on February 25-26.

County Board Kurt Prenzler read the proclamation honoring Alton’s Antonia Phillips (140 lb. state champion), Collinsville’s Taylor Dawson (125 lb. runner-up), Edwardsville’s Olivia Coll (100 lb. sixth place), McKenzie Pratt (120 lb. runner-up), and Abby Rhodes (130 lb. third place), Granite City’s Samir Elliot (155 lb. state qualifier), and Highland’s August Rottmann (170 lb. third place).

Four of five speakers during public comments spoke on their concerns with the current leadership for the Troy Fire Protection District (TFPD).

James Williams of Troy, a business owner and volunteer TFPD firefighter, was the first to speak, stating what he considers to be a lack of leadership.

“We have no leadership or trust for the Board of Trustees of the Troy Fire Protection District.” Williams stated in his remarks. “I feel that the current course the board is taking will harm the service(s) provided by our fire and EMS service for the people of Troy.”

Williams continued to elaborate on actions taken on the board which could endanger the future of TFPD in the coming months and years.

“The actions done by our current board (and a few past members) has caused numerous job losses of well-trained professionals in our district,” Williams said. “Positions are slow to fill or not [filled] at all.”

He continued to state that only one of TFPD’s ambulances are fully staffed and in service.

“How long before another ambulance from another district can get to us if someone in our district is in need?” Williams inquires. “This affects services that our community deserves and pay taxes for.”

In his closing remarks, he stated that there was no transparency by the trustees, as they have dodged around questions in public comments.

Darren Hartman, a representative from International Association of Firefighters Local 4531, spoke on behalf of TFPD’s paramedics in his remarks.

“I [have] worked under this board for eight years now,” Hartman stated.

Hartman would present further detail on TFPD being built from the bottom up after the closure of a private ambulance service that was winding down its operations. He would further detail how the board has turned things at TFPD in the wrong direction.

“Trustees who helped build this district up have resigned,” said Hartman. “Fire chiefs and EMS leadership were [either] pushed out or let go. Experienced paramedics and EMTs have left to seek other opportunities, sometimes with less pay.”

Hartman added that a pension was promises in a signed contract, but there has yet to be any security offered to recruit and secure good, qualified paramedics.

“This is a failure of our current board members,” he stated. “Certain trustee members do not have the experience or knowledge to successfully make good decisions.”

Kelly Huelsmann is a TFPD employee who spoke explicitly about the actions of one of the trustees in question, who does not have the best interests of the district in mind.

Huelsmann reported about a phone call she received from the manager of the district’s banking institution, where the unidentified trustee had badgered and publicly harassed a teller at the bank to receive unauthorized information relating to TFPD. The situation had arisen to such a level that the teller was crying.

Huelsmann also stated that this was not the first issue relating to this trustee. She elaborated on the ongoing retaliation by this trustee for expressing her concerns to representatives of the Madison County Board.

She also stated the deliberate lack of communication and action from those board members, as well as Chairman Prenzler, who the matter was also forwarded to.

Huelsmann said that TFPD could face potential legal implications, not limited to this particular trustee, but potentially the entire board as well.

“This trustee followed an ambulance to an active scene, taking pictures of patients in violation of HIPAA,” she said.

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which established national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without patient consent or knowledge.

Huelsmann also noted that ongoing harassment from this trustee has made her job intolerable and that she fears retaliatory removal from her position for speaking out.

Current TFPD trustee Ryan Cunningham expresses similar concerns.

“The board of the Troy Fire Protection District is in complete chaos,” Cunningham said. “I would rather resign, but I won’t.”

Cunningham requested to the board to have a full inquiry of the district’s actions. He further stated that if the board does not take action, he will have to take the matter further to the Illinois Attorney General.

He further stated about pending legal action in relation to EEOC, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, violations.

Ann Warner spoke regarding to the Plum Street property in Edwardsville. She was urging the board to not approve the sale of the property.

“Not only is it one of the few greenscapes remaining in the area along Illinois Route 159, but the property contains a wetland,” Warner stated.

Most wetlands in the U.S. are subject to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Section 404 permitting requirements, and those along the Mississippi and Illinois River regions are no different.

Warner elaborated on potential drainage from development south of Governors Parkway. Additionally, she inquired if the county had done an impact analysis in the development area, as well as an impact study involving downstream runoff from the development.

She referred to the Iron Works property, which previously had a wetland in her remarks. That led to a question if they got a USACE 404 permit for that project.

“Development in this area could have disastrous results,” Warner said.

In her final remarks, she stated that the only interested buyer of the property doesn’t even have local connections to Glen Carbon or Madison County.

“The interested buyer is not local,” said Warner. “They don’t care about the wetlands.”

Four zoning resolutions were approved during reports from the Building and Zoning Committee.

The first and second resolutions were for proposed signs with an electronic billboard. St. Peters Lutheran Church and School and Prairietown Fire Protection District, both in Worden, were the applicants for their respective proposals.

The third resolution was from Hailey Ratterman to place a mobile home on the site of 1705 S. Union Street in Staunton for a period not to exceed five years, eligible for administrative review relating to continued placement of the mobile home should she still be the occupant and owner. Ratterman and her family will be the occupants of the home.

The final resolution was from Dale Krump, who wishes to construct a building for agricultural purposes at 302 Park Road in Highland.

The board voted to approve a resolution to contract professional engineering and land surveying services for the Long Lake Outfall (Lake Drive and MCT Schoolhouse Trail Bridge projects) with Granite City-bases Juneau Associates, Inc., P.C. in the amount of $1,383,352. It will be paid from allocated funds relating to the projects.

A resolution to purchase two 2022 Ford Explorers with four-wheel drive for the Building and Zoning Department. The purchase will be through Morrow Brothers Ford in Greenfield in the amount of $63,910, paid from departmental host fee funds.

Also approved in Building and Zoning was a resolution to authorize environmental grants for Fiscal Year 2022. The county had budgeted up to $150,000 for this purpose from the host fee grants fund. A share of $142,771.64 will be disbursed to 11 governmental bodies within the county.

Among those receiving grant funding are Collinsville Township ($15,000), City of Troy ($15,000), City of Highland ($11,448.44), Village of Glen Carbon ($15,000), and Tri-Township Park District ($13,040).

Board member Mick Madison and the Executive Committee presented resolutions relating to collective bargaining agreements (CBA) between the county and the American Federations of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, on behalf of Local 799. Other resolutions include non-bargaining unit employees and approval of the CBA with the Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee.

The Plum Street property previously mentioned in public comments was up in business presented by Madison on behalf of the Facilities Management Committee. Staenberg Advisors LLC was the lone bidder for the property in the amount of $3,868,000. The land sale was approved.

Board member Jamie Goggin presented three items to the board for approval via the Finance and Government Operations Committee. The claims and transfers report reveals $3,992,168.44 paid out in February, as well as $4,534,501.99 reported in claims from February.

There was a request for an immediate emergency appropriation to increase the Circuit Court Capital Outlay fund. The increase will be in the amount of $17,730. All were approved, including the property trustee list.

Goggin also presented business from the Information Technology. Kucera International was awarded a consultant services contract in the amount of $63,000. Services are for aerial photography services in 2022 for the county’s information technology department.

The department received clearance to purchase three Dell PowerEdge R450 servers, as well as one Dell ME5024 storage array. The purchase price is in the amount of $54,691.84.

The department will also be able to purchase Next Generation Firewall equipment, including subscriptions and installation, via a contract in the amount of $94,730. The contract includes subscriptions to threat prevention and advanced URL filtering, as well as a subscription to WildFire. The price is inclusive of installation and support.

Goggin also presented one resolution from the Judiciary Committee to authorize payment for individual electronic monitoring without a court disposition. The monthly expense will vary based on the number of individuals being monitored but should not exceed $40,000.

Board member Erica Harriss presented business from Personnel and Labor Relations to make some amendments to existing policies. The changes impact policies for governmental security awareness trailing, county employee onboarding, and personnel policies for supervisory, professional, confidential, and non-union employees. All three resolutions passed.

Board member Glassie Glasper presented an ordinance to amend Title V, Chapter 50 relating to animals, of the Madison County Code of Ordinances. The amendments in question relate to more specific language deletions, redrafting, and relocation to similar or newly-established code guidelines, including actions surrounding reckless ownership of animals and the Community Cat Program. The amendment was approved.

Glasper also presented business from Public Safety to renew annual services for Code Red weather warnings with Onsolve, LLC in the amount of $60,750. The services include the weather warning service, IPAWS integration, and premium data services.

Goggin returned to present business from the Transportation Committee in the absence of board member William Meyer. All business presented was approved.

Included among those business approvals are an appropriation of $150,000 to cover its share of utility relocation costs for AT&T to make cable installations on the CSX Railroad Bridge along Lebanon Road in Collinsville Township, supplemental funding of $125,000 to add on to the previously apportioned $600,000 for improvements to Langenwalter Bridge in Jarvis Township, approval of a supplemental agreement for preliminary engineering services for replacement of an existing drainage structure at Engelke Bridge in Olive Township, and a final payment resolution to Kamadulski Excavating and Grading in the amount of $200,711.33 for the Seiler Road project.

Also approved were funding agreement resolutions for the resurfacing of Esic Drive from Illinois Route 157 to University Drive (Edwardsville, $56,000), Center Grove Road bridge replacement (Edwardsville, $360,000), a turn lane addition to Country Lane along CH50/Troy-O’Fallon Road (Troy, $48,600), and reconstruction of Clay Street (Troy, $163,875 for phase 2 and $79,248 for phase 3).

The Madison County Board will hold their next meeting on Wednesday, April 20.

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