The new superintendent for the Livingston County Veteran’s Assistance Commission appeared before members of the Fairbury City Council Wednesday evening during the group’s regular meeting.
Mike Haerr explained how the agency helps veterans in the county with access to VA and benefits.
“It’s pretty important we recognize our veterans’ service,” Haerr explained.
Tom Bailey was the former commission superintendent and an employee who retired in June. He started out as a driver for veterans.
“For the last 12 years, he had been the superintendent.”
Haerr spent time in Germany and Afghanistan while serving our country. He served for 33 years in the Army, most of the time as a commissioned officer. Haerr admits veterans are sometimes too embarrassed to ask for the help they need. This includes mental health counseling.
As around 22 service members a day commit suicide, the agency’s goal is to help bring down that stigma of needing help. The Veteran’s Assistance Commission can see if pensions and compensation should be higher and they have a small emergency fund to assist some with expenses.
“The goal is it’s a hand up and not a hand out,” said Haerr. Our goal is to help find other resources as well.”
Haerr noted there are plenty of resources out there to not only help veterans, but those in need throughout Livingston County.
The county has planned a breakfast and orientation for veterans on Saturday, Nov. 12 starting at 8 a.m. at the Pontiac Armory with speakers at the state and federal levels. This is the day after Veterans Day.
“I look forward to helping you and your veterans,” Haerr concluded.
Also during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s Fairbury City Council meeting, resident Pam Price who lives on Stanley Drive expressed concerns over a camper parked on nearby property.
“The camper is halfway on the city easement, parked at an angle,” Price stated.
She said they cannot see traffic on Stanley Drive when leaving their own driveway. Mayor David Slagel reminded Price vehicles can be parked on the street and if the camper is not within the ordinance, it will need to be moved.
“I’ll take a look at it again,” said Slagel.
According to city ordinance, the camper must be 10 feet from the street where there is no sidewalk or 10 feet from the sidewalk.
“At one point, I thought they were within the limits,” added Slagel.
“They’re not,” replied Price.
Street Superintendent Martin Steidinger reported one of his dump trucks used for plowing has a crack in the transmission and is leaking oil. He would like to find an old township truck and has noticed one for sale in Plainfield. This would just be used for plowing snow.
Police Chief Robert McCormick updated the council on upcoming training for the entire police department. They will be using the SELCAS building for training, which includes information sharing with multi-state agencies. The same day, they will train with SELCAS on CPR, Narcan use and defibrillators. Time at the shooting range is expected at a later date.
City Superintendent Brett Ashburn advised the group of a planned audit review for the year which will likely take place ahead of the next September council meeting.
Alderman Charlie Hoselton and others have received complaints over mattresses at the corner of First and Oak streets.
“Is there something we can do there?” he asked.
“A letter should have been delivered today,” replied the mayor.
Alderman Jon Kinate received a complaint over a sign on Seventh Street, south of the highway. Superintendent Ashburn said a letter can be sent asking the owner to take the sign down but it can’t be forced since it deals with free speech.
Alderman James Tipton asked for a follow-up on the previous discussion of golf carts in the country south of town on First Street. Mayor Slagel said the county and township have been in talks about it.
An amendment was recommended to allow distribution of 35-gallon trash carts for older residents or those who cannot handle the bigger ones. A rent of $3.50 a month was suggested for this as the city will have to pay for the carts. This is essentially a lease with the city. The carts are a mini version of the current ones. Final approval will take place once the ordinance is changed.
Chief McCormick explained the need for a used car for undercover work and a new squad car. No action was taken at the meeting, but the chief will likely bring back more information. A 2005 Buick LaCrosse is being used but a sensor is going bad.
“Our undercover vehicle fits in anywhere,” said McCormick.
The other vehicle, a 2016 Explorer, is mechanically sound but the in-car camera needs to be replaced. This cannot be used for patrol. With the availability of grant money, McCormick feels it may be time to upgrade the vehicle.
A request was authorized for the Student Senate of Prairie Central High School to use city streets on Friday, Sept. 23 at 2:30 p.m. for the annual homecoming parade.
The one-year maintenance agreement with Braniff Communications for outdoor warning sirents was renewed for $2,055.
The consent agenda was approved, which covered minutes from the Aug. 17 meeting, voucher invoice register listing the bills, treasurer’s cash report and overtime report. Several sidewalk requests were approved, including locations on Mirlynbeth, Oak and Locust. The Locust approval was for parking.
“I don’t think we did my son’s,” said Alderman Hoselton, referring to Varsitee Screenprinting. “He paid for all of his.”
“I think anybody that requested it was paid,” added Steidinger.