Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2013, 11:11 pm

Aledo approves truancy ordinance for with fines for students, parents

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By Pam Berenger, pberenger@qconline.com

ALEDO -- City council members have approved a truancy ordinance for Mercer County School District students who live in Aledo.

Tuesday's vote came after changes suggested by city attorney Mark Walton. Violators of the ordinance -- and their parents -- will be subject to fines.

Mr. Walton explained parents will not be fined for children older than 13, but could face fines of up to $100 for children younger than that who commit the "offense of excessive absenteeism."

Any student younger than the age of 18 who lives within the Aledo city limits absent without "valid cause" for more than five days during a school year would be subject to the ordinance. Violators 13-18 years old face a fine of up to $100. The minimum fine was set at $25.

Ald. Barry Cooper voted against the ordinance, saying he believed it would be ineffective because the school district was a "Mercer County school, not an Aledo school."

"I don't think the city should be involved," he said. "This is an issue between the school and the parents and the parents and the child."

In other matters, Amy Hess, founder of Adonai Community Support Services, presented a six-month report. She said, since opening in August, she has helped about 20 veterans in Aledo with disability claims, employment search and medical assistance.

"The need is great," she said. "I have not reached beyond Aledo. I can only imagine the kind of growth I will see when I reach out to Galesburg and Rock Island."

The organization has grown from community support and private donations, she said. More financial help and staff is needed, she said, adding fundraising efforts have allowed her to hire a temporary part-time employee at $10 per hour, 10 hours per week, for 12 weeks. She also said she hopes to be able to hire another employee.

Ms. Hess also said she is seeking people to serve on Adonai's board and help raise funds, write grants and organize events such as "Welcome Home Memorial Day" set for May 25 and the "All Community Heroes Day" planned Sept. 7.

Members of the American Legion of Aledo also were at Tuesday's meeting seeking the city's help to pay a $7,800 loan needed to complete a roof replacement last year. Melvin Bond said the group was able to come up with some of the $17,000 needed to replace the roof but had to borrow the rest. He noted the group's scholarships and donations to community organizations.

"It's a dilemma," he said. "We can stop the charitable donations and pay for the roof or ask for help. We would like to continue to give."

Darlene Johnson also presented the council with an offer of new benches for Central Park on behalf of the Rhubarb Fest committee. Mrs. Johnson said the metal benches are $595 each and are guaranteed for 20 years.

The council also:

-- Adopted a resolution extending the duration of the Building and Life Safety Code Upgrade Grant Program.

-- Approved two tax-increment-financing district Building and Life Safety Code Upgrade Grant Program applications for up to $25,000, one by Machinavations Inc. and the other by Robert and MaryAnn Rillie.

-- Approved a $9,147 engineering agreement with Hutchinson Engineering Inc. for Part 2 of the manhole repair project.