Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District Board Meeting
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Directors
January 16, 2019
Call to Order: Chairman Jim Hutchison called the meeting to order of the Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District Board at 8:10 am on January 16, 2019. The board met at 1620 S. Galena Avenue, Freeport Illinois.
Roll Call: Present at the time the meeting was called to order were board members Jim Hutchison, Chad Alderks, Barb Klinger, Seth Wenzel and Dan Diaz. District employees Lorna Chezem, Administrative Coordinator and Aaron Dinderman, Resource Conservationist; NRCS employees Jim Ritterbusch, District Conservationist, and Abby Mielke, Soil Conservationist.
Not in attendance –Lori Toelke
Approval of Minutes: Chad Alderks moved to approve minutes of the December SWCD board meeting, seconded by Jim Hutchison. Voting aye: all. Motion passed.
Bills to be Paid: Jim Hutchison moved to approve the bills as listed on the monthly budget sheet for January, seconded by Dan Diaz. Voting aye: all. Motion passed.
Review and Approval of Employee Time Sheets: Employee time sheets were passed around. Barb Klinger moved to accept the employee timesheets, seconded by Chad Alderks. Voting aye: all. Motion passed.
Stephenson County Board Report: Scott Helms
- Introductions were made for those directors & staff that had not met Scott. Scott has been on the Stephenson County Board for two years. Scott’s wife is Stephenson County Treasurer. He serves on the Finance Committee, Planning and Development Committee and the Nursing Center Committee. He has graciously accepted the position of being the SWCD board representative and is planning on reporting back to the county board on a regular basis.
- Stephenson Nursing Center has gotten a lease approved to build a solar farm to benefit the nursing home. This will be in the vicinity of the County Salt building.
- 2 Additional solar farms will be approved at the next County Board meeting.
- Finance Committee will be starting a 5 year capital improvement plan.
- A discussion was held about roads/streets and bridges in the county (need for repair); the financing of these projects comes from motor fuel tax and grant funding. Scott gave the example of the McConnell road improvement project – 4 miles of road cost $5 million dollars!
- Chairman Jim Hutchison asked about the Mill Race Industrial Park. There has been a lease for a solar farm. Ingrown Farms is growing 1 plant to maintain the facility. Governor Pritzker is talking about legalizing recreational marijuana that would expand county tax revenue. There are currently 7 licenses in the State. Land is leased to a farmer so the county is at least getting rent.
Freeport City Council Report: Tom Klemm/No report
Conservation Plans & CPO’s: Jim/None this month
Contribution Agreement Jim/No update this month
CRP Update: Jim
- New Farm Bill has been signed by the President; but it will take months to work out the details and implementation.
- CRP up 2 million acres; water quality will be the focus – waterways; filter strips, etc.
- Aaron continues to clean up CRP work that Brian did not finish.
EQIP Update: Jim/Nothing new
CSP Update: Jim
- CSP will stay as a standalone program in the new Farm Bill. There are approximately 50 contracts for re-enrollment that were offered a one year extension to complete the same practices as this contract year.
Other Updates: Jim
- Total number of NRCS employees is down 20% compared to a couple of years ago.
- Jim is now in charge of Carroll and Jo-Daviess Counties due to the retirement of Jim Dykema
- Shutdown update: FSA loan personnel will be coming in 3 days to handle loan payments.
Programs / SWCD Updates: Lorna/Aaron
- Election Paperwork – absentee ballots registration sheet, paperwork and ballot/ballot box was available to those directors that would be unable to come in on election day, February 7.
- Scholarship Payments – letters were passed for chairman Jim Hutchison’s signature. Checks were included with bill payments.
- FOIA form was passed and discussed; Aaron will be added as a FOIA officer.
- Postage rate increase was discussed the board thought it would be a good idea to purchase extra stamps and forever postcards for tree/fish sales.
- Newsletter is in process; Lorna hopes to have it completed and sent to the printer by Friday.
- Tree Sale and Fish Sale forms will be included in the newsletter and are available in the office and on the website.
- Keepers of the Land committee had their first meeting on January 14 to plan the April 30th event which took the place of the September event that had to be postponed due to the terrible mosquito problem.
- CPP applications; priorities and money distribution were discussed.
- NACD Boot camp training for Aaron was discussed – prerequisites and letter of recommendation.
Approve Reports as E-Mailed: Barb Klinger moved to approve the reports as e-mailed from: Lorna Chezem, Jim Ritterbusch, Abby Mielke and Lori Toelke; seconded by Chad Alderks. Voting aye: all. Motion carried.
- Letter & request from NACD for dues; we just paid $100.00 in June; we will not pay additional dues at this time.
- Updated sub-agreement for Administrative Grant was passed for Jim Hutchison’s signature.
- Burn Workshop will be held in March; we are partnering with Pheasants Forever on this event and it will be included in the newsletter.
- A discussion was held about Hemp farming – it was included in the Farm Bill. A group of individuals from the Stateline are talking about hemp farming. Processing will be the most expensive. At this time it is not considered a cash crop and is very labor intensive. It is believed that permits are needed but not available at this time. U of I Extension is having a seminar in March.
Having no other business, Chairman Hutchison adjourned the meeting at 9:25am.
Barb Klinger, Treasurer/Secretary Notes recorded by Lorna Chezem