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Livestreaming and a better sound system coming to Washington City Council meetings

The Washington City Council met Monday in a banquet room at Five Points Washington. Five Points will be the home for council meetings after audio/visual equipment the council purchased Monday is put to use.
Steve Stein
The Washington City Council met Monday in a banquet room at Five Points Washington. Five Points will be the home for council meetings after audio/visual equipment the council purchased Monday is put to use.

The Washington City Council took two significant steps Monday toward having its meetings livestreamed.

The council unanimously approved purchasing portable audio/visual equipment from Pearl Technology of Peoria Heights for $80,507, and an agreement with BNCO Consulting to operate the equipment for $500 per meeting for six months.

The equipment is expected to be delivered in 12 weeks.

The council's two regular meetings and one committee of the whole meeting each month are generally held in the training room of the Washington Fire Station. After the equipment arrives, meetings will be held in a Five Points Washington banquet room.

City Manager Jim Snider said a request for proposals will be posted next week for council table furniture.

There's $150,000 in the city's 2024-25 fiscal year budget for expenses related to the livestreaming and videotaping of council meetings and providing a better audio/visual experience at meetings for council members, city staff and the audience.

Meetings currently are recorded on an iPad and placed on the city's website.

Ironically, the purchase of the equipment from Pearl Technology and the agreement with BNCO Consulting came on a night when audience members and media attending the council meeting in a Five Points banquet room had a difficult time hearing discussions at the council table.

No microphones were used and in the hallway outside the banquet room, constant noise from youngsters and parents waiting to enter the Caterpillar Performing Arts Center for a dance recital filtered into the meeting.

City, high school propose three-year agreement for school resource officer

The council held a first reading Monday of an intergovernmental agreement between the city and Washington Community High School for the Washington Police Department to continue to provide a school resource officer [SRO] for the school.

The agreement is for three years.

The council will vote on the agreement June 3.

"We've been trying to get a multi-year instead of an annual agreement with the high school for several years," said Police Chief Mike McCoy. "Dr. Freeman [Superintendent Kyle Freeman] appreciates the value of having one of our officers at the school during each school day and at big events like football and basketball games,"

The SRO is a full-time employee of the police department, and receives the salary and benefits commensurate with his or her experience and training.

During the city's 2023-24 fiscal year that ended April 30, WCHS contributed $82,000 toward the SRO's salary. The contribution the next three years will be determined by who is the SRO, according to the agreement.

The agreement also states that the city and high school will continue to split costs equally for the SRO to attend the National School Resource Officer Training Conference.

Jackson Street pedestrian bridge closed before it's replaced by a culvert

In his regular report to the council Monday, City Engineer Dennis Carr said the Jackson Street pedestrian bridge was closed last week because of the "structural failure of the handrail on the bridge's west approach." The bridge will be replaced in June by a culvert.

Jon Oliphant, the city's planning and development director, reported that concrete will be poured on the first floor of the downtown square restaurant project this week [weather permitting] and work continues to complete the restaurant's second-floor framing.

McCoy and Deputy Police Chief Jeff Stevens reported a motorist was ticketed for driving 62 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone on Washington Road near McDonald's. Three other speeders were ticketed for driving 60 mph near the same location.

Council sticks with status quo in its agreement with Discover Peoria

In other action Monday, council unanimously approved:

  • An agreement with Discover Peoria (also known as the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau) for $20,000 for services during the city's 2024-25 fiscal year that began May 1. That's the same amount Discover Peoria received from Washington during the city's 2023-24 fiscal year. The same services Washington received in 2023-24 will be provided in 2024-25. Discover Peoria asked for $25,000 for 2024-25, with additional services, including creation of a video.
  • An agreement with Hanson Professional Services of Peoria for $90,000 to acquire land for the city for sidewalk projects on North Street and Grant Street. Each is a Safe Routes to School project overseen and funded mostly by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The projects are expected to go out for bids in 2025, Hanson's fee does not include land acquisition purchases.
  • A contract with low bidder Knapp Concrete of Goodfield for $419,975 for drainage improvements in the Felkers subdivision. The project includes the placement of yard inlets to better direct water to the storm sewer and upsizing the culvert that drains a large portion of the subdivision.
  • Proclamations honoring World War II veterans, Washington residents and centenarians Aurthur Reynolds and Max Tessier on Memorial Day. The city's Memorial Day parade will start at 10 a.m. Monday at Main and Jefferson streets and proceed to the historic Glendale Cemetery.

Vote to go into closed session isn't unanimous

Council member Mike McIntyre made a motion during the alder persons' comments section at the end of the meeting Monday to go into closed session to consider "the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee to determine its validity," the legal language.

The motion passed 5-2 with council members Mike Brownfield and Brian Butler casting the no votes.

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.