Posted Online: Jan. 08, 2013, 9:46 pm
Henry County praises workers in rural Dec. 20 blizzard
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By Lisa Hammer, firstname.lastname@example.org
CAMBRIDGE -- Sheriff's deputies slept in their cars, the administrator and some staff at Hillcrest Home slept on the floor and employees of the health department, the highway department and even the courthouse were involved in getting through the Dec. 20 snowstorm.
"Some put in 26 hours and slept in their cars," said public safety chairman Kippy Nelson, referring to deputies. "There was a lot going on."
Karen Urick, chair of health and social services, said Hillcrest administrator Mary Bergren was at the home for 30 hours straight and only got one hour of sleep.
County board chairman Tim Wells told board members Tuesday night that all departments deserved credit, adding "hopefully" procedures will move even better in the future.
"Thanks need to go out to all those who did extra work during that time," he added.
In other business, Mark Hunt of Bi-State Regional Commission gave a presentation to the board, comparing his agency's services to the "flux capacitor" time machine from "Back to the Future." He explained every $1 turns into $5, and Henry County's $23,000 became $251,000, which included a $20,000 pass-through grant, $193,000 rural jobs grant and $38,000 updated county comprehensive plan, which is required for certain federal and state funds.
Mr. Hunt stressed his agency provides access to legislators and helps local governments work through what can be a quagmire. "We can be your advocate and work through federal and state processes," he said.
Board member Roger Gradert asked if a Rock River bridge project had taken a back seat to the Interstate 74 bridge, and Mr. Hunt said the I-74 bridge project is "critical."
"Trucks sitting idle cost so much money," he said, adding Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the I-74 bridge one of the most dangerous bridges in the country.
Mr. Wells said other local governments may argue about the benefits of membership in Bi-State, but Henry County recognizes them.
"It's a great relationship we have, and I think we're leveraging it just fine," he said.
Charlie Lotridge, chairman of the Henry County Economic Development Partnership, introduced Kathleen Repass, of Geneseo, the county's new economic development director, and her assistant, economic specialist Katie Hobbs, of Bettendorf.
Board members also discussed plans to change the regular monthly meeting day from the first Tuesday to the Thursday after the second Tuesday of each month to better facilitate paying bills and reviewing financial reports prior to the meeting. The matter will be voted on Feb. 12.
The board also:
* Learned sheriff's foreclosure sales have raised $641,250 in the last 12 years.
* Abated property taxes from the newer addition to the courthouse in order to pay the bonds with existing funds.
* Learned Hillcrest Home received a $28,000 GIFT Foundation grant for a new fire panel that will pinpoint the location of a fire.
* Learned the county is continuing to prioritize needed interior and exterior improvement projects at the courthouse, but there is no leaking in areas where repair work has been done.