March, 2019 Minutes

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Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District Board Meeting

Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Directors
March 20, 2019

Call to Order: Chairman Jim Hutchison called the meeting to order of the Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District Board at 8:03 am on March 20, 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, NRCS employees Jim Ritterbusch, District Conservationist, and Abby Mielke, Soil Conservationist.

Not in attendance – Aaron Dinderman and Lori Toelke

Reorganization of the Stephenson SWCD Board: Board Members

·         Seth Wenzel made a motion to nominate Jim Hutchison as Chairman, no other nominations were cast.          Barb Klinger closed the nominations and seconded the nomination. Voting unanimously. Motion carried.                Jim Hutchison was elected Chairman.

·          Barb Klinger made a motion to nominate Chad Alderks as Vice-Chairman, no other nominations were cast.        Seth Wenzel closed the nominations and seconded the nomination. Voting unanimously. Motion carried.                  Chad Alderks was elected Vice-Chairman.

·         Chad Alderks made a motion to nominate Barb Klinger as Secretary/Treasurer, no other nominations were cast. Seth Wenzel closed the nominations and seconded the nomination. Voting unanimously. Motion carried. Barb Klinger was elected Secretary/Treasurer.

2019 Board and Committee Assignments: Board Members and Associate Board Members

·         2019 Committee Assignments were completed an updated copy is included with these minutes and will be sent to each director with their April board packet.

Approval of Minutes: Jim Hutchison moved to approve minutes of the February SWCD board meeting, seconded by Chad Alderks. Voting aye: all. Motion passed.

Bills to be Paid: Jim Hutchison moved to approve the bills listed on the monthly budget sheet for March; along with the addition of the nursery bills for Alpha and Engels, 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.

Action Items:

Stephenson County Board Report:  Scott Helms

1.       The county has initiated the disaster process for flooding. Freeport, Winslow and McConnell all are experiencing horrible flooding.

2.       The Chief Judge ordered that court fees are waived for people at the poverty level (for a one year trial period). At this time the impact for the county is unknown. Currently there are approximately between $700,000 – $800,000 dollars worth of fees that have not been collected.

3.       A request for proposal (RFP) was submitted for a fee study of all county agencies; this has not been done since 2008.

4.        A RFP was also submitted for county health care; they are currently using the State of Illinois insurance but looking into going back to being self insured.

5.       Another RFP was submitted for a cost analysis of the county fleet vehicles.

6.       Chairman Jim Hutchison asked Scott Helms about the roads in the county. A study of all of the roads was completed and prioritized by companies that are expanding in the county. It would cost approximately between $4 –7 Million dollars to make road repairs in the county; this will be slow going because without raising taxes there is no way to fund the needed repairs. County is filling pot holes as they are being reported.


Freeport City Council Report:  Tom Klemm

1.       Flooding in the East Side of Freeport was discussed at length. Volunteer meetings are being coordinated by the City, Salvation Army and other organizations on how to begin the clean-up efforts. 170 people evacuated and 21 chose to stay. A million and a half worth of infrastructure damage has been estimated. St. James church got water for the first time ever.

2.       Many of the houses will not get any assistance for repairs due to the agreement with FEMA that was completed after the last flood. Details of the buy-out agreement are that a federal person evaluates the home/ value. The owner would get the evaluated price of the home plus an additional $31,000 plus counseling

 and moving expenses. (This still needs to pass in the State)

3.       A vote was taken to raise funds for mosquito abatement.

4.       ShopKo is closing in Freeport; this is a quality building so Tom believes it someone will go into it.

5.       The current rumor is that Planet Fitness is coming into the old K-Mart location.

6.       A candidate meet and greet was held in the 1st Ward on Tuesday night.

7.       Manny’s Pizza is almost done remodeling the old Fieldstone building; no word on when they will move.

8.       Bids have been accepted on airport road expansion, electrical service and septic will also be expanded.

9.       Tri-Star, Honeywell and Met Life are all expanding their operations in Freeport.

10.   Chairman Jim Hutchison asked Tom about the roads in the City of Freeport. City will borrow 2.4 million for fixing roads (home rule); this is above and beyond the funds received from the motor fuel tax. Funding will also come from the increase on Water & Sewer bills that was implemented a few years ago; $2.00 out of the $8.00 increase will go toward road improvements.


Conservation Plans & CPO’s:  Jim/None this month


Contribution Agreement   Jim

Lorna continues work per the administrative grant agreement and Aaron is making CRP mid-management modifications. 


CRP Update:  Jim

·         Priority will be water quality projects – waterways, filter-strips, etc.

·         Still up in the air with the rules of CRP/Farm Bill.

·         Lori Toelke and Aaron Dinderman have been going out and looking at CRP waterways that are due to expire. Compliance letters are being mailed out.


NRCS Update: Jim

·         Workload assessment was completed for NRCS; more employees are needed here in northern Illinois. Stephenson county ranked 6th highest in the state for workload and contracts.

·         Drift less Area/Trout Unlimited funds – three quarters of a million dollars will be available for stream bank stabilization projects in several states.


EQIP Update:  Abby

·         Modifications (Mod rules) – practice commence within 1st 12 months of contract; 2 commencement modifications have been completed.

·         The first two cut-off dates have been announced for applications April 19 and May 17. Funding cut-off will be about 6-8 weeks after (ranking will occur during this period). There is a backlog of approximately 40 applications.

·         An energy audit was completed at a local dairy to replace old light fixtures in the dairy barn with new energy efficient lights.


CSP Update:  Abby

·         Continuous signup; no application cut-off date has been announced. A one year extension was given to all current contract holders due to expire December 31st 2018. CSP payments have all been made for 2018.

·         Standing crops practice was discussed.

Programs / SWCD Updates:  Lorna/Aaron

·         Remaining election paperwork (SEI statement) was passed for signature.

·         Tree Sale – we ended up with approximately 105 orders; but most are small quantities. Many pre-ordered trees were turned back to the nurseries (over 1300 white pines).

·         Fish Sale – about 8 orders have come in so far.

·         Keepers of the Land – there are about 230 students registered so far.

·         Burn Workshop was a great success despite the low attendance; many good questions were asked.

·         Conservation Planning Boot Camp – Aaron has turned in all the needed paperwork.

·         Retirement open house is being planned for Jim Ritterbusch on April 23. Abby has made a flyer that was sent to Farm Bureau, Extension; it will be sent via e-mail to NRCS employees and posted around the office. The District has agreed to buy the cake.

·         Well decommissioning project was passed for approval. Barb Klinger made a motion to approve the WDP; seconded by Seth Wenzel. Voting aye: all. Motion passed.


Approve Reports as E-Mailed: Barb Klinger moved to approve the reports as e-mailed from: Aaron Dinderman, Lorna Chezem and Jim Ritterbusch; seconded by Chad Alderks. Voting aye: all. Motion carried.


Informational Items:


·         Letter about our section of route 26 that is in Adopt-a-highway program was discussed. It has been difficult getting people together to accomplish the cleanups on this section.  Scott Helms, Seth Wenzel and Chad Alderks all volunteered help so it was decided to renew the cleanup of this section.

·         LUC1 dues were discussed – Barb Klinger made a motion to pay the dues; seconded by Seth Wenzel. Voting aye: all. Motion carried.


Other Business: None



Having no other business, Chairman Hutchison adjourned the meeting at 9:42 am.


Barb Klinger, Treasurer/Secretary                     Notes recorded by Lorna Chezem

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