© 2023 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WCBU is undergoing major tech upgrades which could cause interruptions in our streams. Thank you for your patience.

Washington renews CodeRED emergency alert system

Washington Police Chief Mike McCoy
City of Washington
Washington Police Chief Mike McCoy

The Washington City Council on Monday approved a contract with CodeRED that will enable the city to send unlimited emergency alerts to residents via text messages and phone calls over the next three years for annual cost of $4,642.

That's a change from city's previous unlimited emergency and general alerts Code RED package, "but, in practice, the city has predominantly used the service for emergency alerts," said Police Chief Mike McCoy.

The city's annual cost for unlimited emergency and general alerts increased by 6.5% in 2021 and 8.6% in 2022 to $7,286, and another cost increase was expected for 2023. The city paid $6,000 in 2017, when it began the service.

"Code RED has been a great service for us," McCoy said. "The city is doing a great job on its website and Facebook page getting out non-emergency information, so we're in good shape with that."

Alderperson Lili Stevens agreed with McCoy about Code RED's benefit to the city.

"It's the best thing since sliced bread," she said after making a motion to approve the contract. "It gets a message to a large group of people in a short time."

Washington residents can sign up for CodeRED through the city's website.

Animal control expenditures likely to go up

Tazewell County Animal Control is proposing a 56.4% increase in animal and rabies control services in Washington over the next four years, phased in through a 14.1% hike, or $2,037, each year.

The full increase will gradually hike Washington's cost for the services over four years from $14,445 to $22,596 annually.

Washington Finance Director Joanie Baxter said she was told by Animal Control officials that the agency's revenues weren't covering expenses.

Because of the shortfall, she said, the agency did a cost analysis based on each community it serves population, call volume and animals housed, and came up with a contract amount for each community.

The agency's services will remain unchanged in Washington. They include responding to calls of animals running at large, taking custody, impounding and finding the owners of those animals, and making regular and random patrols in the city once a week.

"I applaud the wisdom of contracting out for our animal control services," said Washington City Administrator Jim Snider.

City Council will vote on the increase Nov. 6.

Several Tazewell County communities are facing a higher percentage increase than Washington over the next four years for Animal Control's services. Among them:

  • Delavan: 101.62% increase from $2,267 to $4,570.
  • Mackinaw: 83.8% increase from $1,810 to $3,328.
  • Tremont: 74.4% increase from $1,979 to $3,452.
  • Creve Coeur: 74.2% increase from $7,480 to $13,036.
  • Armington: 74.0% increase from $460 to $800.

Among the larger communities in Tazewell County that contract with Animal Control, Pekin is facing a 57.3% increase from $48,704 to $76,632, East Peoria a 21.3% increase from $31,087 to $37,731, and Morton a 10.2% increase from $14,097 to $15,537.

Council removes recommended rezoning measures for new storage facility

The City Council also voted 6-2 to remove three provisions added to a rezoning from C-2 to C-3 requested by Jakob and Hannah Spitzer of Spitzer Properties that's needed to establish a storage facility at 2140 Washington Road.

The Spitzers plan to construct a four-bay building, with one bay allocated for their dumpster rental business, at the vacant site.

The rezoning is needed because of the dumpster rental business, which Spitzer told council members would not be the primary use of the property.

He also said the roll-off dumpsters, initially eight of them, would be used only by customers needing them for remodeling projects, and would be cleaned at the landfill before being returned.

The provisions were added by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, which recommended approval of the rezoning, because of concerns expressed by neighbors about the dumpsters' outdoor storage and use.

City Council will vote on the rezoning Nov. 6.

We depend on your support to keep telling stories like this one. You – together with donors across the NPR Network – create a more informed public. Fact by fact, story by story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support truly makes a difference.

Steve Stein is an award-winning news and sports writer and editor. Most recently, he covered Tazewell County communities for the Peoria Journal Star for 18 years.