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CO2 pipeline major County Board topic

Kim Paisley-Jones

Breeze-Courier writer

TAYLORVILLE — A packed house filled Court Room A in the Christian County Courthouse for the regular meeting of the Christian County Board Tuesday night. Vice Chairman Craig Corzine opened the meeting with a moment of silence being observed to remember long- time board member Charles DeClerck who recently passed away.

Numerous citizens spoke during the public comments section of the meeting about the current proposal for a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project. Elizabeth Rose Thompson, of Navigator CO2 Ventures, began by stating that their group has held land owner meetings, surveyed, and are working with land owners currently. “We are dedicated to listen and learn and refine our approach based on feedback. We know that actions speak louder than words and we are committed to being good partners, and want to provide flexibility in our compensation mode. We know this is a large scale investment in the community, a million to million and a half per year,” said Thompson.

Steve Brockelsby, of the Christian County Citizens To Protect the Aquifer spoke to the crowd. “Me and my brother have been out in the community to see the dump site. We’ve spoken to land owners and we marked down everybody that was a “no” in the proposed dump site. That is over 80% of landowners who are opposed to it. (Regarding) the proposed pipeline site, I believe there is approximately 90% opposed to it from the Christian County line to the dump site. I just want you to be aware of how the land owners feel and citizens of the community. I personally haven’t talked to anyone that is for it. The company is money oriented and not for the citizens of the county,” said Steve Brockelsby.

Bruce Brockelsby said “I’ve done some digging on who owns the CO2 and I understand it is Black Rock, the world’s largest investment company. Former Black Rock investors hold a predominant role in President Joe Biden’s cabinet. Biden also tapped another former chief of staff to Black Rock’s chief executive, who serve at top officials at the Treasury Department. To me, it looks like they are trying to take our tax dollars and funnel it over seas. It’s a lot of foreign investments (Black Rock) and it’s been going on for quite a while. If you Google aquifer in Christian County you’ll come up with a permit that when they was out north of town in 2011 there’s a 245 page report that they were doing this carbon sequestration dump site, doing research on that then. They want the board to hurry up and get on their schedule. They’ve had over 8 years as far as I know to get something done. They’ve been waiting on the financial backing from the government to do this,” said Bruce Brockelsby.

Nicole Lanham, a Christian County farmer and wife, urged the board to stop the CO2 pipeline and sequestration sites. “Also vote for a six month moratorium to get your bearings and to truly understand the weight of these measures. Besides obvious safety concerns that others have already addressed, this ultimately comes down to rights and precedence. Allowing a private company to come into our county and take and tamper with ground, even if the owner opposes, is downright un-American. Allowing a private company to use eminent domain for profit is unethical. This is more than chipping away at landowner rights. This is hacking away at them with a machete. We have something a private company deems as useful. Why are we allowing them to take it without every owner’s consent? Just because they want it so badly? Or because a few other neighbors saw dollar signs and said yes without understanding what it means? If we allow this, mark my words, there will be an avalanche of other pipelines. There are others already in the works. This is setting precedence. If we allow this our whole county will be an overlapping highway of carbon dioxide pipelines. This proposed route may not affect you or your family directly, but what about future projects? Even if this company decides to follow the rules, the next (one) may not. You cannot put the cat back in the bag, so to speak. This comes down to money and greed. This project is green washed to appease political forces. But the real root is lots and lots of money. This is a 3.2 billion dollar project across five states. Once it’s operational, the pipeline would move $650 million dollars worth of CO2 per year for decades. This company is going to tell you whatever you want to hear to get this pushed through so that they can get rich. We’re ground zero right now and you have the power to say no. There are other avenues for carbon capture that don’t require ripping up 1300 miles of the most fertile ground in the whole world. You cannot take this back. Low risk is not the same as no risk. This decision will affect the citizens of this county for hundreds of years. So don’t go down without a fight,” said Lanham.

Jeff Nolan approached the board to let them know “It is within the county’s rights, under health, safety and welfare, to put a set back they deem necessary, after studying the aquifer, wells or whatever. They have set backs and you can add to it. Basically, I’d like the board to consider a few things; setting fees and permits for the carbon capture. The county will need inspectors to be at the excavation to make sure utilities are properly repaired. Possibilities are digging through personal forgotten surface drains, footing tile drains, field tiles – whether they be old clay or polyethylene, oil field piping, and natural gas lines. Make contractors accountable whenever something like this comes, there’s no code or law permitting for repairing field tiles. So, they have to be registered, hold a certificate of insurance, etc. We have to when we do things for the city or county, whether it be plumbing or sewage, or whatever. The county should adopt standards for the repair of field tiles. If you go deep with that and you’ve got a tile here there are standards for repairing of tile. The repairs should be independently inspected. You may need to hire inspectors or engineers who are knowledgeable to make sure that happens. The consequences can be astronomical. A good example is the geo-thermal industry. Up to just a few years ago, geo-thermal wells were not licensed. Anybody with a drilling rig, that’s how they made money when they weren’t doing things, they contaminated water and did all kinds of things. Finally, counties had to step in and it was so erratic. The state had to step in finally. They were reactive instead of proactive. That was a big issue. Government agencies are encouraged to promote an industry such as this because it’s political. There’s big money involved. A lot of long term effects can come into play. A huge concern should be the ground water aquifers. Christian County has a vast water network. If you get on the geological survey, it’s huge; absolutely huge,” said Nolan.

Courtney Puccetti, a court reporter in the Christian County Courthouse, addressed the board regarding issues with the sagging floors in the courthouse.

“I’ve worked in this building for 16 years and work on the 3rd floor. It was reported in January 2020 that there was an issue in the ROE Office of crumbling concrete and sagging in that office. Chris Schafer, a structural engineer, came to look at that office and the crumbling concrete and it was determined it was not suitable to have people in that office. He advised a plan to alleviate it and suggested that all floors be assessed. Bill Kennedy advised, at this time, that he could do the analysis to save the county money. There was some concerns of Chris Schafer about who signs off on the work once completed and evaluation of the data collected. Chris Schafer, structural engineer, said he collects the data, writes a report and accepts the responsibility of the content. It was reported to the County Board in February 2020 that the work was complete under the ROE office and in March, one month later, a structural engineer would submit approval of the work. In March of 2021, one year after the work was completed under the ROE office, Hurst- Rosche Engineers, Inc. was contacted to examine the first floor. In January of 2022, ten months after Hurst-Rosche examined the ROE office, tuck pointing and more work needs to be done to be consistent with work reviewed by Hurst-Rosche. I’ve asked if a structural engineer has ever been signed off after the work on the ROE office was complete and I have not gotten an answer to that question. Two years after the work was reported to be complete under the ROE office work is still being done. Since January of 2022, I’ve noticed changes on the third floor. There’s a ridge on the courtroom floors, that appear to have gotten worse over the two years. There’s a ridge in the jury bathroom where it cracked the tile. There’s a ridge in the conference room next to Courtroom A, in the hallway floors. There’s a severe slope in judge’s chambers next to courtrooms B & C. In the court reporter’s office, the floor was not level. We could not sit or stand without having back or hip problems. We noticed this after the work was done in the ROE Office in 2020. We were told it was a subfloor issue and a project was started in May of 2020 to fix that. After the first project, the office floor still was not level. After many complaints and further investigation, we were told it was a header that needed to be put under the floor on the County Clerk’s Office by Jackie’s desk. After that project was complete, we were told the floor was ‘dead flat’. The floor still today is not level and the slope in the office, just east of that happens to be worse. You can walk and feel the slope. Two weeks ago, my heel went through the floor,” said Puccetti.

Steve Sipes, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), announced he had received a resignation letter from ZBA member, Mark Dozier. Sipes read the resignation letter to the County Board and in it Dozier said “I’ve enjoyed my time serving the ZBA.I am not a political person. However, in the past few months it appears that there are factions in the County Board that are not pleased with the progress and direction that I and the ZBA have taken. I have never been afraid to ask the hard questions, but it appears that it isn’t enough in some people’s eyes. Being on the ZBA takes time from my farming operation and only pays mileage. I feel it is time for me to move on. I’ve reached a time in my life where I feel I should be relaxing and enjoying a few things. Instead, I’m hearing complaints about ZBA not being fast enough, what is being accomplished and that we are on the wrong track. By my leaving, this should give those dissatisfied factions of the County Board an opportunity to hand pick someone more in line with their agenda. I hereby relinquish my position effective April 15, 2022.’ Sipes commented that “Mark Dozier has worked very hard on this board to make sure that what is done is done right for everybody involved. And there has been some things come down the pike through the ZBA that has not been right. When you guys send us an ordinance, or something, that you want us to look at, make sure most of the work is done before you send it to us. Because the feeling is that you’re looking for scapegoats. There’s been some ordinances that come down the pike that make no sense whatsoever,” said Sipes.

Sally Brusveen, a long time advocate for animals and a certified State of Illinois Humane Investigator, addressed the board and urged them to divide the Zoning Office from the Animal Control Office. “A few years ago when the two (departments) were put together, a lot of us were concerned because we really feel that Animal Control, if done properly, is a full-time job. Now four years later we even feel stronger about that than we did in the past. Why is that? Because the county has a lot of people that are advocates for animals and we care what happens to the animals in our county. They expect that the current animal welfare laws are enforced and even improved upon. These are things that we want to work on. They expect that complaints are handled in a timely manner, during hours or after hours. They expect that the health and safety of the animals is the priority when investigations take place. They expect the breeders in our county are to be inspected and licensed by the county or the state, depending on the number of animals that they have. These are all things that are included in ordinances and laws. These are things that people expect to happen. That’s a big job. It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of cooperation from a lot of different groups. So, again, I would urge you to separate the two, Zoning and Animal Control. And I would also hope in the future, if you were to hire in a new director or an assistant that that would be a person who is capable and willing to work with all of us to accomplish these goals,” said Brusveen.

Seth McMillan spoke to the board about the Ethics Commission for the County. “Myself, Laura Wilkinson and Mark Smith, of Kincaid, currently serve on an Ethics Commission for the county. Lucky for us, we’ve never had to address anything, but there are a couple problems with that. There has been a recent complaint made against several members of the County Board. The problem is that the Ethics Commission has never been given a direction. We don’t have rules to follow. We have no idea what policy or procedures are. This did not occur under the current board, but it’s something that is going to have to be addressed here, very shortly. And so I think that the board needs to be made aware of that. You have an Ethics Commission, there should be some policies and procedures that we’re supposed to follow. Second thing is I believe that because of current complaints that a motion on making changes at Animal Control should be tabled for a month. That’s my opinion and recommendation to the board so that it does not create a liability for the county,” said McMillan.

And finally, Jane Griffith, from the Christian County Health Department talked about the agenda she had seen in the newspaper regarding the official salary and/or stipends the County Board, Chairman of the Board, the County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Sheriff and Treasurer, and Supervisor of Assessments, I just wonder where the other County people were, like the Christian County Coroner and the Christian County Public Health Manager, because those people have felt the brunt of COVID, probablyasmuch,ifnotmore than any of the other people, if this is in relation to that COVID bonus that the City got. I’m not sure, because I can only go by this agenda. I just wanted to bring up my concerns and taking with other people, their concerns, too,” said Griffith.

A motion was made and approved to appoint Clint Epley as the new District 4 County Board member. Epley was appointed due to a recent resignation from District 4. He was sworn in and took his place with the County Board immediately following. Denny Stiner was appointed to three year term with the Owaneco Fire Protection District and Ron Brown was appointed to maintenance supervisor with the county.

Ordinance numbers were assigned to ordinances that were previously passed regarding salaries. Those ordinances are listed as follows: 02022CB008 Christian County Board, 022CB009 Chairman of the Board, 02022CB010 Christian County Sheriff, 02022CB011 Christian County Treasurer, 02022CB012 Christian County Supervisor of Assessment, 02022CB013 Christian County Clerk and Recorder, and 02022CB014 Christian County Circuit Clerk.

Christian County Clerk and Recorder Jacque Willison read the communications for the month. “The following communications were placed in file in the clerk’s office for April 2022: April 2022 prevailingwagereport,March 2022 Public Defender’s Report, the Treasurer’s report for period ending March 31, 2022, the Solid Waste report for March, IDOT – the March 2022 Motor Fuel Tax Allotment for the County and the Rural Township District Report. Ameren sent a notification of future tree trimming. They’ll be trimming trees in and around the area of Langleyville to Kincaid along Route 104. IEPA sent a notice of application for permit to manage waste,” said Willison.

Board member Dale Livingston read minutes of the April 12, 2022 Highway/ Building/Grounds/ Environmental/Zoning and Welfare Committee. It was voted by the committee to send to the ordinance for Carbon CO2 Capture to the Executive/Personnel Committee. A motion was made and approved to bring it to the full board for discussion. Mike Specha discussed it was his understanding that the recommendation that came out of the Executive/ Personnel Committee was to wait the six months moratorium. Chairman Wells advised this ordinance has bounced back and forth between the board and the committee. Since the Tenaska Company has developed an ordinance for the ZBA, Chairman Wells is concerned that the company gets everything in line to get a permit while this issue goes back and forth with a possibility that the county would have nothing in place. Mike Specha agreed, but having an imperfect document is better than no document. Chairman Wells said, at this time, the only ordinance going to the ZBAistheoneTenaskahas presented. Board member Mike Specha said “It would seem to me if we keep playing ping pong with these ordinances and don’t get our heads together then I don’t know where that leaves us, is my concern. The ordinance we are discussing, the one that was tabled and now back before the full board, has prices in it of a fee of like $20 per vertical foot. The ordinance Mr. Poggenpohl has is a price of $200 per vertical foot. Significantly different numbers. So the accountant in me is about to extend these to you. $20 a vertical foot if they sink these injection wells 1,000 feet down. There’s five injection wells, and there’s ten monitoring wells, I’m assuming they’re all covered, is about a $1.3 million fee with the lower numbers. With the $200 fee in there, that number is about $7 million. Now, I’m not here to express an opinion about which number is right, but we never, as a board, ever discussed that, which is back to my concern that we’re pushing to legal without even looking at the numbers. That’s a huge variation in the number,” said Specha.

A motion was made to recommend to the full board to allow the Solid Waste Department to hire a full-time educator, investigator and inspector. Vicki McMahon brought up for discussion that “It was my understanding that whoever took over the Solid Waste position was going to function as the investigator/ inspector. That was part of the reason we consolidated it; it was a cost savings. So I’m wondering why it’s being brought up now,” said McMahon.

Livingston replied “It’s being brought up now because we knew a little bit about what was going on over there. We didn’t know a lot, until Vince (Harris) got over there and could read the delegation agreement. He’s got zoning on his plate. He’s probably more of a figure- head to make sure everything gets done in that requirement I would say, and when I talk to people for Vince to go to the job the biggest thing was to find out what was going on over there and then make recommendations. The delegation agreement is 16-20 pages and there are all kinds of stipulations and stuff. The money we get back comes from the tipping fees,” said Livingston.

Vice Chairman Corzine said “It should go back to personnel (committee); however, solid waste manager has his budget, so I would say that if someone wants to make a motion to send back to personnel then so be it. Board member Ray Koonce made the motion to table it and send back to the personnel and executive committee. The motion was approved with Dale Livingston voting no.

In other Highway Committee business the full board approved a motion to execute a joint agreement for federal participation on the Locust Bridge #3 with federal funds paying 80%, State Township Bridge Funds paying 16% and a local match is 4% of the project. Additionally, another motion was made and passed to appropriate $30,000 for a resolution appropriating county bridge funds for Locust Bridge #3 (section 19- 07116-00-BR).

Under courthouse and building issues, Livingston stated that Bill Kennedy reported to the committee that most of the heating and cooling has been converted. He also stated the work to address the complaint for the floor slope on level 3 has been completed. “We are about ready to do the next phase of floor reinforcement. Charles Sampson will complete the labor for approximately $25,000 with Mr. Kennedy supplying the metal. County Treasurer Betty Asmussen asked the question “Where were those funds going to be paid from? Because that would need to be in with the motion.” The motion was then retracted and brought up under new business.

Ray Koonce went over the April 11, 2022 Executive/ Personnel Committee meeting minutes. A motion was made and approved to table the six month moratorium on the Carbon CO2 project and send it back to the committee for further discussion and legal advice.

A motion was made and approved to send back to the personnel committee for discussion of separation of the Zoning and Animal Control Departments.

Board member Venise McWard read the meeting minutes of the Audit/ Finance/Purchasing/Budget Committee from April 12, 2022. McWard noted that there was no action taken on a request for an additional jailer. The original request for one jailer was re-evaluated and a second jailer is needed. It was reported that Sheriff Kettelkamp indicated a check was received from IDOC for the housing of federal inmates in the amount of $62,000 that would be more than enough to cover the first year’s salary for a new jailer at a cost of $39,640. No motion was made to approve this request and therefore no action was taken.

McWard addressed a discussion during committee regarding IMRF accelerated rate. A motion was made and approved to recommend to the full board up to $32,300 plus interest be paid for IMRF.

A motion was made and approved by the full board to approve claims for the month of April.

McWard also addressed a request by Vince Harris for money for the cat room. Harris indicated they are $34,000 short for the cat room and had requested ARPA funds for that project. No motion was made and therefore, no action was taken.

Discussion took place in the Finance Committee meeting regarding a premium payment for all county employees who worked from March-December 2020 be given a premium payment from ARPA funds. The Finance Committee made a motion to review ARPA requests as a whole and bring back to the committee in June.

A salary range for full time educator at the Solid Waste Department was made to increase from $36,00 to $38,000. The Finance committee recommended to refer the matter for a job description to the personnel committee.

Two members of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines addressed the board with a power point presentation regarding their concert for a carbon pipeline. Lan and Pam Richart of Eco- Justice Collaborative (ECJ) in Champaign, IL presented the power point, along with a compelling video about potential dangers should the pipeline be approved. You can view the video at https:// www.dnv.com to see a dense phase CO2 8” NB pipe rupture that happened in 2013. The mission of EJC is to raise public awareness of the consequences of our actions on people and our planet, then advocates personal and policy changes that seek harmony with planet earth, respects all life, values diversity, supports ecological sustainability and brings about a just distribution of the world’s resources. You can visit their website at ecojusticecollaborative.org for more information.

A motion was made and approved to send back to the personnel committee a low income housing ordinance. Christian County Accessor Chad Coady discussed the fact that there is currently a Section 8 Housing ordinance and a Pilot Program Ordinance on the books, in addition to the request for a third low income housing ordinance. Cody stated “This would be an increased tax burden on tax payers of the county. I suggest that the board adopt an ordinance to opt out of the program. It would be a nightmare with bureaucracy. We already have enough of these. It’s a lot for the county to take on,” said Coady.

In other board news, the following motions were approved:

– Put the old EMA car up for sale
– Bids will be accepted next month for stump removal on the southeast corner of the Court House lawn.

– Increase the pay from $40 per meeting to $100 per meeting for the ZBA. Motion to forward to the Finance committee approved.

– Send a motion back to personnel/executive committee for a ZBA recommendation for meteorological tower text amendment.

– Motion made to send back to personnel committee for $1205 911 ARPA Fund request.

– Motion made to move back to personnel committee for a $30,000 labor cost to complete the next phase of the courthouse floor support project.

– Motion to amend in the personnel section (Item I) regarding 10% rule.

– Motion to send back to the finance committee for the approval of purchase of survey records from the DeLay family for $120,000.

– A motion was made and approved to utilize the Courthouse lawn on September 10, 2022 for the Annual Dog Days event.

The board went into closed session at approximately 9:30 p.m. pursuant to 5 ILCS 120/2 (c) (11) Litigation. No action was taken on the closed session discussion once they returned to open session. They approved the mileage and per diem report and discussed a few attorney names to check with regarding environmental issues and/or questions. The meeting adjourned and the next board meeting will be held Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

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