The Watch | Thank public workers



Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night may stay United States Postal Service couriers from swift completion of their appointed rounds … but COVID-19 puts a cramp in them and everyone else.

I can vouch, having gotten the beast. It’s no fun, and mine is a mild case. So thank your mail carrier, your grocery clerk, your doctor and everyone else who continues to work with the public during this mess. (Thanking them from several feet away and double-masked, of course.)

We’re not out of the pandemic woods yet, but local governments continue to function as best they can:

Peoria Housing Authority held its annual meeting just before the regular monthly meeting on Jan. 11. Commissioners affirmed their conflict of interest and confidentiality agreements for the 2021 term. New officers are: Carl Cannon, chairman; Helen King, vice chair; Kadar Heffner, treasurer; William Purham, secretary. Cannon will assign committee roles in February.

Chief Executive Officer Jackie Newman discussed PHA and Illinois Central College (ICC) collaboration on the Section 3 initiative for the Taft Homes project. Surveys from PHA residents have been received and follow up includes providing internet and computer access to assist with the application process. Frank Campbell Community Center will be used.

Next steps include infrastructure planning for development site, including water and sewer line location, electrical service and spacing residential units. PHA staff has reached out to local labor unions to identify job skill opportunities for residents without GEDs. PHA is using its newsletter to inform residents about changes and plans, as well as door to door canvassing. The first training group was scheduled to start Feb. 8 with 12 participants, including men and women.

Commissioners approved a security services contract with Security Pro of Rockford. Security Pro has experience with housing authority residents and had positive references. It has automated records for timely reporting and follow up of issues, touts a family-friendly approach and will hire locally to cover PHA properties. An experienced Security Pro employee will be assigned locally and work closely with PHA staff. Meetings will be held to introduce residents to Security Pro staff; security will be present at PHA activities. It is anticipated the new vendor will start in February.

PHA staff is developing required emergency action plans for all locations to include a wide range of emergency situations. Collection loss of $7,520 was approved to be written off.

Under new business, the board approved reactivating the group search committee for CEO position. (Newman has helmed both Peoria and Springfield housing authorities for the last few years. Observers speculate the board wants a Peoria-only CEO.) Commissioners Kim Furness, Renee Andrews and Hefner will review the job description.

Peoria County Election Commission met remotely on Jan. 12 and was live-streamed on Facebook. All commissioners attended.

There was an Electoral Board meeting just ahead of the regular meeting to discuss objections to Abby Humbles’ nominating papers for the Dunlap School Board. The petitions had been reviewed on Jan. 8 and found to be in order, so Humbles will be on the ballot.

During the regular meeting, board members learned that $90,000 of the $109,544 Center for Tech & Civic Life Grant has been spent or targeted. A report was due by the end of January, but the commission has until summer to spend the funds.

Early voting had started for the Feb. 23 primary election. About 200 voters had already asked for ballots. The only partisan election is the democratic primary for Peoria Township.

Federal Warehouse was awarded the contract for moving equipment for the general election April 6. Early voting for that election will start in the election office on Feb. 25 for precincts outside of the city of Peoria. Those city elections which are involved in the primary will not be ready until March 11 or 12.

League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria observers attend and report on local government meetings. Check

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