News Report Staff

Effingham County government has a new safety handbook to ensure uniform procedures for all county employees.

The safety handbook covers training requirements and procedures, and establishes the process on reporting safety issues in the workplaces, county board member Karen Luchtefeld said after Monday’s county board meeting offered approval of the new handbook.

Luchtefeld explained safety procedures were already present in different departments and many will remain in place. This change, recommended by the County Board Safety Committee, provides an overall regulation on safety for the workers.

Some major work is ahead for Effingham County Memorial Airport, based on reports from County Engineer Greg Koester. The county will allow a permanent easement to the city of Effingham for sanitary sewer work along the Airport Road. This work will cover about three-quarters of a mile and allow work past the security fencing, and will not hinder airport operations, Koester said.

Obstruction removal work and an apron expansion are ready to start at the airport, as well. AJ Walker, of Mattoon, was awarded the contracts on those projects. The removal work will total $188,000 and the apron project will cover about $486,000. A major runway expansion is ahead, but not ready for bids at this point, Koester said.

The University of Illinois Extension Service will receive $94,000 from the county budget. This funding was first established by referendum in 2000. This is a similar figure allocated in recent years.

Board member John Perry voted against the funding resolution because he wants to reconsider county tax money going to “organizations not in the scope” of what the county board does. He said it is wrong to spend that money when the last tax levy asked for more from county taxpayers.

Other board members agreed with the extension funding, including Jeff Simpson who pointed out county voters had originally approved that funding through a referendum. The vote on the extension service funding had Simpson, Luchtefeld, Joe Thoele, Doug McCain, Dave Campbell, Lloyd Foster and Rob Arnold in favor, with Perry opposed.

Monday’s meeting included a presentation by 4-H members in honor of National Government Week.

Effingham County 4-H Ambassador Angel Harrington told county board members and officials how 4-H members are involved in different activities for the public welfare. The 4-H Ambassadors have worked with the County Sheriff’s Department to help collect more than 8,000 pounds of disposal prescription pills and drugs no longer effective through the P2D2 program.

The 4-H’ers will host an electronic recycling event on April 14 at St. John’s Luther Church in Effingham. That event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon that Saturday.

The young people have been involved in clinics on animals, workshops on bread, drones, geology and safety. They have joined in on disaster preparedness, poverty awareness and much more. Of course, the 4-H Ambassadors and all club members will be involved in preparations for the Effingham County Fair, scheduled from July 28 to August 4.

The county board members and county officials received homemade cookies from Harrington and other 4-H Ambassadors Lea Thompson, Lacey Thompson and Jacob Doedtman. Michelle Loy, the 4-H adviser, also thanked county government for all it does for the county residents.

The board also honored the Illinois Farm Bureau for 100 years of serving agriculture and local communities. Board chairman Jim Niemann offered praise to Farm Bureau leaders from Effingham County.

In other business, the Effingham County FISH Human Services organization received a $700 check from the Illinois Counties Association.

Campbell also pointed out $38,000 is available to help out local businesses through the County Revolving Loan Fund. Interested parties can contact the Effingham County Board office.