News Report Staff

Teutopolis Village Board Trustees tried to clear the air last week on what open burning is allowed in the community.

The subject of burning was prompted with a December 20 presentation by Stacey Tebbe as part of her graduate school health care studies. Tebbe said burning of any waste, whether manmade — like plastics and cardboard — or natural, leaves and branches, can emit a variety of toxins.

Some aggravate respiratory ailments for people of all ages, she said. Smoke from burning can force some residents to stay inside for many hours, or prevent homeowners from opening up their windows on warm and sunny days.

“There are some young children with respiratory disorders in the local school. When smoke from burnings is in the direction of the school, some children must stay in the school,” Tebbe said. “That’s why I’d like to see a no-burn policy. It would make it easier to breathe for many people.”

Through her research, Tebbe reviewed statistics on toxic materials produced by burning. Tebbe said burning of trash or garbage poses an extensive health risk. That is especially true with the burning of garbage.

“I know change is never easy because people are set in their ways on getting rid of yard waste,” Tebbe said.

Village Commissioner Joe Schumacher asked if Tebbe had considered what other communities are doing on burning. Tebbe said Altamont has a no-burn policy on leaves and other yard waste. The leaves are collected by city personnel to help residents comply with the no-burn policy. Effingham has adopted a policy limiting burning of yard waste to a few days each week to provide some relief, especially during the fall disposal of leaves.

Board members mentioned some practices initiated in Teutopolis to reduce the volume of burning. Village residents can only burn yard waste from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the village accepts drop-offs of yard waste at the public works lot.

When it was mentioned to Tebbe the village has a ban on the burning of garbage, Village Economic Development Coordinator Anita Deters said that ban is not officially in force because the nuisance ordinance has been amended but not approved.

Some board members Dave Tegeler and John Mette were surprised at that revelation and suggested a ban be set in place by the board. Tegeler suggested village police officers should help enforce the current rules on burning, especially after 5 p.m., because it is seems many residents are not filing complaints with the police department.

Mette has tried mulching of leaves with a lawn mower. “It takes less time than burning,” he said.

But the consensus of the board was if burning leaves and other yard waste was banned, the board should offer realistic alternatives to residents. The dumping of yard waste at the village lot has not drawn much participation. Collecting leaves through a curbside program would require village personnel to collect the leaves by hand or with equipment like leaf vacuums. Mass mulching of leaves might be expensive with the purchase of a large tub grinder or other machinery to grind down the yard waste.

“If there was an easy way to do it, we would’ve done it a long time ago,” Mayor Greg Hess said near the close of the discussion.

But Tebbe’s request was definitely not dismissed as impractical.

“We’ll work on it some,” Hess said on sparking new action on reducing burning.

The board also unanimously approved amendments to the Tax Increment Financing reimbursement agreement with Farmweld Inc. The company that produces metal agriculture equipment for hog operations and other farming uses has started a major expansion of its facilities on the east side of Teutopolis. A TIF District uses set-asides or increments of property revenue to finance improvement of properties, whether private or public.

The revisions clarify work eligible for TIF funding reimbursement. It also set a total amount for TIF assistance at $1,448,400, which was the original total established between the board and Farmweld. This was considered necessary because some changes in the number of specific items in the expansion, such as the number of loading docks and doors, are changing.

In other business, the board discussed priorities on sidewalk improvements and expansion within the village.

The village might be sweeping away a discarded street sweeper soon. Some board members said anyone hauling away the street sweeper will not necessarily feel like they have won the sweepstakes.