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McLean County approves energy efficiency audit through Ameren

McLean County Law and Justice Center, health department building
Eric Stock
McLean County government is participating in an energy efficiency program for four of its buildings.

McLean County government is participating in an energy efficiency program for four of its main buildings.

The county board approved an energy audit during its monthly meeting on Thursday. The board also approved several road improvements, a new data software system for the McLean County Jail and a new labor contract for some highway department employees.

Energy audit

Ameren will pay for an energy audit for the Government Center, the McLean County Nursing Home, the Law and Justice Center, and the building at 200 W. Front St. that houses the McLean County Health Department.

The audit will be done by SEDAC (Smart Energy Design Assistance Center) at the University of Illinois.

County administrator Cassy Taylor said it's unclear how much the county might save. “We are hoping there will be some short-term, quick wins that we can make with our energy usage to lower our baseload,” Taylor said after the meeting.

Taylor said long-term improvements might include a new heating and cooling system or automated lighting.
The county hasalso explored solar energy. Taylor expects solar will be included in the county’s five-year capital plan.

“Before we do so, we have to make sure all of our roofs are in good shape,” she said.

Road improvements

The county board also approved funding for several road projects, including construction of Rock Road and Riddle Pit Road for the Sapphire Wind Farm project in eastern McLean County near Arrowsmith.

The county plans to spend $1.5 million for Rock Road and $800,000 for Riddle Pit Road, and to use a combination of state and county funds totaling $2.25 million to resurface Saybrook-Arrowsmith Road from Arrowsmith Road to just west of Saybrook, $2 million and the lake spur from Comlara Park Road to Pipeline Road north of Hudson, and $440,000 to resurface Danvers-Yuton Road, from State Street in Danvers to U.S. Route 150.

Jail management system

Also Thursday, the county board agreed to a contract with California-based software company ATIMS to implement a new jail management system for the McLean County Jail. The estimated cost is $1.3 million over five years, which is considerably higher than several other bidders.

Jail administration recommended ATIMS, saying it is a much better system for correction staff to use.

“The correctional field is increasingly challenging with an inmate population who have high risk factors, mental or behavioral issues and/or medical issues,” jail superintendent Diane Hughes said in a memo to the county board. “Quick reference to an inmate’s information is paramount to the safety and security of both staff and inmates.”

The county plans to pay for the system with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and from its shared sales tax with Bloomington and Normal that helps fund the county’s mental health initiatives.

AFSCME contract

The county board also adopted a new, four-year labor agreement with the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCE) for highway department workers. Their last contract expired Dec. 31.

Snow plow operators will be paid $21 per hour this year with increases of 3.5% in 2024 and 2.75% the following two years, according to a memo to the board. Truck drivers, laborers and equipment operators will see raises of just over $1.40 per hour this year and smaller raises the next three years.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.