ARNOLD ENGINEERING AND 300 WEST AGREE TO CITY AMENDMENT

The city of Marengo and Arnold Magnetic Technologies, Inc.-300 West LLC entered into an amendment to their Feb. 13, 2016 agreement to provide a letter of credit for a minimum of $675,000 for the “Segment 1A” for a water main extension, from the city’s wastewater treatment plant to impacted residents along Ritz Road and Railroad Street. The Nov. 26 accord was accepted by Mc Henry County Circuit Court Judge Michael Chmiel, who reduced the amount from the standard 125 percent to 100 percent of the projected job value.

The process is being monitored by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency against the two companies in 2013, under docket# 13CH1046. In 2010, Marengo crews attempted to install a well on Ritz Road and discovered a potential contamination condition. Arnold retained a consultant group with monitoring wells to produce on-site and offsite samples.

Those findings confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals consisting of carcinogenic agents and composition elements that included Vinyl Chloride, Xylenes, and Tri-Chlorofluoromethane. The litigation sought to enforce testing regimens, initiate remedial action, and set punitive damages as an estimated seventeen private wells in a one-mile proximity of the plant site were found to be impacted by the contaminants.

The 2016 agreement, brokered in court, found the two companies would pay for the construction of a water main extension to the affected properties, and the imposed deadlines were not met. Several extensions were requested by the firm representing the companies, and the Attorney General’s Office tried to move forward in resolving issues with third parties, related to easement considerations. The city was to be repaid for an engineering outlay, but had no collateral funds for the actual water main construction.

The letter of credit is meant to satisfy the collateral requirement of the new amendment. Construction on the “Segment 1A” is slated for a Nov. 1, 2020 start date.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES BENEFIT FROM STATE GRANT PROGRAM

School district libraries in the Marengo area were among the recipients of funding through the Fiscal Year 2019 School District Library System Grant Program, administered by Ill. Secretary of State Jessie White, who also serves in the capacity of state librarian. The allotment, approved by outgoing Ill. Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly, resulted in the disbursement of more than $1.3 million to 694 school districts statewide.

In a press release, White said, “As a former public school teacher and administrator, I know our school libraries are very important in helping students learn and prepare themselves for the future. Illinois was the first state to implement a school district grant program…to provide school libraries with some of the financial avenues they need to produce well-educated students.”

Local entities receiving grant funds included Marengo-Union Elementary School District 165 ($750), Marengo Community High School District 154 ($750), and Riley School District 18 ($750). The award amounts are based on a calculation involving 75-cents per student and spread over a population of approximately 1.6 million in student enrollment, with a $750 minimum gift.

“For us, it’s great because we have books that we can get into the kids’ hands, and we use the total grant funding for the purchasing of books to place in the library,” said Riley District Supt. Christine Conkling. “It gives the students a wider selection of materials to choose from, and we also use accelerated reading where they read the books and test online for comprehension. Overall, this is a great program and we’ve received the grant funding annually for the last several years.”

The grant funding is normally applied to internet technology and service upgrades, along with purchasing new media for student use including books, DVDs, and subscriptions to electronic source materials for the library.

PLANT AD HOC COMMITTEE MEETS AGAIN

The Wastewater Treatment Plant Ad Hoc Committee met for the second time Jan. 21 to discuss potential litigation regarding its “tolling agreements” with several companies involved with the plant’s design plan and implementation. The issues also included the purchase and installation of the “sonolyzer,” a $500,000 piece of equipment that has been considered unnecessary to the effluent water treatment process.

Public comment preceded adjournment to an executive session, although no legal action was taken.

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