2012 in Quincy: Changes at Park District, energy referendum passes

Ed Seger
Posted: Dec. 28, 2012 8:32 am Updated: Nov. 28, 2014 9:17 pm
After struggling financially in recent years, the Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design shut its doors in March. (H-W FIle Photo)

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Quincy Park District Executive Director Dan Gibble resigned in January to take a similar position with the Sycamore Park District. The Park Board immediately named Director of Parks Ed Seger as the interim executive director. The "interim" tag was removed in March when Seger agreed to stay on for a year while the board searched for a permanent replace, but commissioners decided in November to end the search and keep Seger on the job. The moved saved the Park District about $70,000 annually by not hiring a new director of parks.

After struggling financially in recent years, the Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design shut its doors in March. The former home to the Quincy Public Library, the museum was turned over to the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. The historical society set up a fund to maintain the building and established a committee to plan for the building's future. A public hearing was held in June to generate ideas on potential uses. A final decision has yet to be made, but funding for the upkeep of the building is expected to last into 2013.

Residents at the Illinois Veterans Home learned in March that maintenance fees would increase starting in July. The rates, which had not gone up since 1979, would go from $929 to $1,429 per month for new residents. Residents keep the first $200 of money they receive, with 90 percent of their remaining income going towards maintenance fees. The increase does not affect residents who are unable to make the entire payment. Current residents are having the fee increase phased in over five years. Starting in 2017, the maintenance fees will be tied to inflation. The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs said the increase was needed to provide the level of care that is required by the state.

The Quincy Park District announced that it would be moving its offices from the Emerson Community Center to the River's Edge Complex. The Park District agreed to buy the 12.4-acre site on Bonasinga Drive for $875,000 in April. District staff is expected to move into the property in 2013 after $100,000 to $200,000 in renovations are made. Parts of its current home, the old Emerson School building, are more than 100 years old and in need of $1 million in renovation and repairs. The former school will be put up for sale.

In April, the city of Quincy agreed to pay a $4 million settlement to an accident victim injured in a crash involving a Quincy Transit Lines bus in January 2010. Nicholas Hanson of New London, Mo., was paralyzed from the waist down in the accident. He was the passenger of an SUV that lost control on a snow-covered 36th Street south of State that fish-tailed into the path of the bus. The city's legal team and insurance company decided to settle the case, because they felt the city faced too much risk. The city's insurance provides coverage of $10 million. Any judgement beyond that would have come directly from the city.

Residents of the Hickory Grove subdivision and the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois butted heads over the organization's proposal to open an urban service center on a five-acre parcel within the subdivision. The Girl Scouts had hoped to build a 4,200-square-foot facility on the northwest corner of the wooded site at 640 Hickory Grove West, but residents in the area were concerned about the increase in noise and traffic. The organization also planned to allow overnight trips in the 900-square-foot house on the site. In July, The City Council voted 8-5 against the request, and Girl Scouts officials said they would look for a new site.

Despite heavy opposition from area religious leaders, the Quincy City Council voted 9-5 in July to allow video gaming within city limits. The Illinois Video Gaming Act allows up to five video gaming machines in bars, restaurants, and veteran and fraternal organizations that possess a liquor license. Regulation call for the state to receive 25 percent of house winnings to help fund the state's $31 billion capital construction program, while municipalities will receive 5 percent. Machine operators and businesses that house machines will each get 35 percent. To prevent strictly video-gaming businesses in Quincy, aldermen voted to only allow two machines per location.

More than a year and a half after shutting its doors, the Redmon and Lee Youth and Adult Community Center sprung back to life. The center shut down in January 2011 after a disagreement with the Quincy Housing Authority over its lease. The two sides were able to resolve their differences, and the after-school program started up in September at the Frederick Ball Housing Complex. Before the center reopened, the QHA remodeled the multi-purpose room where the after-school program is held.

In November, Quincy voters approved a referendum that allows the city to bid for electric supply prices on behalf of homeowners and small businesses. Proponents of municipal aggregation argued that residents could see as much as a 30 percent dip in electric supply prices. They also said that Ameren Illinois would continue to deliver energy and also handle outages. On Dec. 20, the city locked in a three-year contract with Ohio-based First Energy. The new rate of 4.194 cents per kilowatt hour is expected to save residents more than 23 percent on the electric supply portion of their bills.

Erica Douglas of the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois stands at the proposed site of an urban service center in the Hickory Grove Subdivision. The City Council denied the request. (H-W File Photo)


The Rev. Tom Rains, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, is joined by other ministers as he speaks out against a video gambling ordinance in Quincy City Hall Plaza. (H-W File Photo)


Redmon and Lee Executive Director Crystal Young, right, talks with volunteer Rita Niemann during a press conference in September to announce the reopening of the center. (H-W File Photo)


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