Farmington opts to give businesses COVID cash

For The Weekly Post

FARMINGTON – Nearly two dozen Farmington businesses and 13 full-time city employees will receive payments from the city’s share of its first American Rescue Plan payment.

Farmington received $151,109 from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan and the city council has spent the past few months deciding how best to use the money.

Monday night, the council voted unanimously to approve a plan that will provide payments of $5,000 to 22 Farmington businesses, $2,500 to a home-based business and $1,000 to 13 city employees who were working full-time in March of 2020 and are still working full-time.

“We could have used it to make up for tax money [the city] lost, but we didn’t want to do that,” Alderman David Black said. “We wanted to give it to the people.”

Qualifying businesses were those who “suffered negative economic impact during COVID” according to Mayor Kent Kowal and who were forced to shut down at some point during the pandemic because they were deemed “non-essential.”

The city sent letters to 77 businesses before compiling the final list of 22 qualifiers. Those to receive grants are: Abel’s Fine Arts, Asher’s Bar & Grille, Auto Creations, Batterton Auto Supply Inc., Bennys Corner Bar, Cobblestone Corner Antiques, Creative Designs/Sovia Home, Diva Florist, DJCN Holdings LLC, Farmington Locker Plant, Kersh Cafe, Loyal Order of Moose, M&K Parties, MTZ Fitness Corp., O’Brian Companies LLC, Razor’s Edge, Scapecchi’s Supper Club, Snips Hair Studio, Star Metal Art, Subway, The Simple Things and Whiskey Dixie’s. AU Creations is the home-based business awarded $2,500.

Kowal said the total payments will be $125,500, leaving about $26,000 that can be spent over the next four years or can be added to next year’s American Rescue Plan payment of $151,109. Kowal said there are no plans on how to use that money yet.

The council also heard Monday that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has given National Environmental Policy Act approval to a grant for converting the old Union Pacific railroad line into a trail. Trail organizer Fred Winterroth of Hanna City emailed Kowal saying that the next step is approval by the Federal Highway Administration. Winterroth said since the grant is “fast tracked” he expects to hear about final approval by the end of September.

The next step is to get a purchase and sale agreement with Union Pacific. Winterroth wrote that he hopes to have the grant process and purchase completed by the end of the year.

The Rails to Trails committee will meet Sept. 28 at Hanna City Village Hall. Farmington, Hanna City and Peoria County are expected to pay 20 percent of the estimated $2.08 million cost to purchase 24.7 miles of right-of-way from Union Pacific and grant money should pay for the rest.

The council also approved the purchase of 34 banners that will be hung from lamp posts in the downtown area. Cost of the banners is just under $2,500. Several banners include the words “Live, Shop, Dine Farmington,” while others banners will display logos of the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, a “Welcome to Farmington” message, a “Thank You to First Responders” and the Farmington Farmers High School mascot.

Public works superintendent Dave Ehlers reported that road paving is completed on 1st Ave., 2nd Ave. and Apple Street.

“We’re looking at which road we’re going to attack next year,” he said.

Ehlers also reported that the city has made money on its sale of emulsion oil to other communities.

The council also approved minutes from its Sept. 7 meeting, during which tribute was paid to the late Rosalie Williams, who had served as city treasurer since Dec. 8, 2003. During the meeting, Anne Stufflebeam was voted in as new city treasurer.

Also on Sept. 7, Kevin Snyder was appointed to replace Rick Kimbrell on the board of police and fire merit commission. Also appointed were: Robert Thompson (Oak Ridge Cemetery Board), Gary Schultz and Brett Wheeler (planning commission), Ben Vermillion (recreation commission) and Brandi Putrich (Zoning Board of Appeals).

And the council approved a Massey Roofing Inc. quote of $10,500 for repair work on the municipal building roof. Repair work is to be done in phases.

Finally, Marshall Threw received a $1,000 grant for siding and brick fascia work at 468 E. Vernon St.