Pekin receives upgrades to high school

The Jefferson County Supervisors met Monday to hear an update from the Pekin School District Superintendent, Dave Harper about facilities improvements in his district. The board also heard from county engineer Scott Cline, county assessor Steve Wemmie and French-Reneker-Associates representative Jason Hull.

Pekin Community School District recently began a $6 million building improvements project to make upgrades on their elementary and high schools. The improvements are aimed primarily at safety updates and remodeling of offices and entrances.

The elementary school, built in 1978, will be gaining a more secure entrance with a glass vestibule and new offices from which people can be buzzed into the building through the secure inner doors of the vestibule. Improvements to the elementary school are expected to be complete by December, according to Harper.

The high school built in 1960, will also receive a more safe and secure entrance way, also with an out of the weather glass vestibule with canopy system. The school?s bathrooms will also be modernized.

Changes including merging the locker-rooms and an old wrestling room will provide needed utility and storage space. Improvements targeting academics include an update to science labs and the addition of two new classrooms related to the labs.

The biggest piece of the project according to Harper is the junior high. The current middle-school wing of the elementary school houses sixth through eighth grades. The former middle-school wing will be absorbed back into the now K-6 elementary school.

The seventh and eighth grades will be moving into a new junior high section of the high school which will share a new grade 7-12 art room with the high school. This new junior high section is expected to complete in December.

?The whole idea with the junior high is to make it a little more efficient with our staff and our facilities. Our seventh and eighth graders are already spending 85-90 percent of their time in the high school anyway. This project looks to be done in December and everything else before school starts,? explained Harper.

County Engineer Scott Cline updated the board about recent roadwork. Blading, ditching, dust control and rock hauling have been done per schedule including brush-clearing on 220th Street near Osage and road was prepared for paving on 227th.

After recent complaints random samples of gravel-rock from different quarries were examined for any signs of being overly sharp and prone to damaging tires or overly soft and prone to creating dust. None were found.

County Assessor Steve Wemmie met with the board to continue discussion of abatement on a county property with an outstanding tax bill since 2002. The board approved the abatement of taxes on the land. During the discussion Supervisor Lee Dimmit brought up the subject of changes to assessment based on removal of buildings or other structures.

?I would ask for the residents help as well, in that if you remove something, let us know so that we can clean up our records,? said Dimmitt.

A public hearing was set for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 20 to discuss the county vacating a portion of Osage which is unused.

French-Reeker-Associates representative Jason Hull met with the board to discuss cleaning up the plat for Lot 1 of the Drish Minor Subdivision. The associated lots need to be redrawn with certain parcels being moved from one lot to another.

Discussion was lengthy as it became clear that care would have to be taken in how to legally redraw and explain the changes to the lots. Action was tabled pending new drawings and a resolution to support the change.

?Its more complicated on paper than it is in real life,? said Hull.

The board approved a business property tax credit for 2018 under the advice of the Assessor and reinstated a disposal system?s contractor license for Leichty and Son Construction, Inc.