After the Shelby County Board on Wednesday resolved to cautiously re-open unincorporated areas to business, the board approved an annual agreement between the county and the U of I Cooperative Extension, with a unanimous “Aye.”
County Treasurer Erica Firnhaber gave her report and asked for approval to implement the new payroll policy that has been the subject of much discussion and an FOP grievance. That request was passed, unanimously, without any more discussion.
Highway Engineer Alan Spesard had no new petitions to get approved. He shared some updates. He reported that the Clarksburg Railroad Project, which has 100% funding, had a pre-job meeting. It is scheduled to begin work on June 15.
He also reported a bridge in Prairie Township will be bid on June 2. He hopes to have more of an update after that at the June county board meeting.
He reported that the capital bill dispersed there first payment this month. The county will receive $959,000 over three years in six payments. The money must be spent on “bondable projects.” the work must be done in five years. He said the rules have not been published yet.
Spesard said that the county highway department makes their own cold mix and they will make that May 18 and 19. They will make 22 tons.
County Board Member David Swits asked about a bridge in northwest of Windsor. Spesard reported that it had been started last fall, but was suspended due to weather. He said it is 80-90% complete. The rest of the work is dependent on weather.
The Fraternal Order of Police grievance was brought up. Shelby County Board Chairman Bruce Cannon asked to appoint board members Dale Wetherell, Gary Patterson, and David Swits to the Grievance Committee.
They were appointed and set a meeting for just over 48 hours later on Friday afternoon with Shelby County Sheriff Don Koonce. County Board Member Earl Baker volunteered his services if needed.
That was the well-oiled portion of the board meeting. Then came Item 10, another attempt by board member Robert Orman to address a controversy concerning outside attorneys doing county work, one in particular, Ed Flynn.
Last month, Orman had a resolution attempting to limit the hiring of outside attorneys for board business.
Orman wanted a vote on a “cease and desist order” for outside attorneys being used by any representative of the county. There was much discussion on that concerning Attorney Ed Flynn for work he has done over the last 5-6 years. He was currently representing the county in an arbitration case.
The topic of using outside attorneys had been discussed by the county board over the last few months. Orman’s motion to “cease and desist” was voted down 13 to 4.
At Wednesday’s May meeting, Orman had another resolution, to officially recognize the end of the contract with Ed Flynn that began on March 12, 2014 and was suppose to end on August 30, 2015.
Flynn continued to do work for the county, even after 2015 and was paid. Some have said that Flynn’s hiring was not legal and that his continued work was not legal. Attempts to address the issue, either way, have not panned out.
Also in the April meeting, there was discussion about a bill for $8,000 that had been approved by the board, connected to Attorney Ed Flynn. It had not been paid.
Treasurer Firnhaber said she pulled it, because she saw nothing in county board action to pay it. County Board Member Terry Metzger said if Firnhaber didn’t want to pay the bill that she could sign under protest, “and that clears you.”
“We voted to approve it,” said County Board Member Lynn Williams
“We voted to pay it,” said County Board Chairman Bruce Cannon. “Erica, I think you need to pay it.”
However, at Wednesday’s meeting, it was reported that the bill had still not been paid.
County Board Member Kay Kearney, who had served as the chairman of the law enforcement committee, spoke
“We had verbal agreements with him and employed him after 2015,” Kearney said. “I think we are committed to pay the debt.”
“We approved the bill,” said board member Lynn Williams. “It needs to be paid.”
Firnhaber contends the attorney’s services were not legal and shouldn’t be paid.
“I asked for a legal opinion and I have yet to receive any,” Firnhaber said. “Until I have a legal opinion, this is where I will stand.”
Board member Barb Bennett replied, “Pay the ... bill.”
County Board Chairman Bruce Cannon said, “It seems we are stuck on making it legal.”
He moved the meeting forward, asking for committee reports. Dale Wetherell said one side of the courthouse clock is working and the rest will have to wait until the COVID restrictions end.
Law Enforcement Committee reported that 10 people are incarcerated at the detention center. The chairman announced a budget meeting on June 3 at 9 a.m. and that the Illinois State Police were at the county looking at past pay practices.
A roll call vote was held to pay the claims and purchases and it passed 18-1, with Orman voting no. The meeting was adjourned.