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Last week, we had a Q & A with Chrisman Mayor Danny Owen. We had a lot of questions for him and so did many of you.
Q: What is the schedule for getting our water from Paris? What kind of rates are we talking in tax increases on the water rates? Who will be maintaining the lines? What company? Will the city take care of the line to Horace-Brocton Road?
A: Currently, we are waiting on permits from the railroad and we expect them in a few weeks. Hopefully everything will be completed within a month. We will be meeting with the engineers to set up a water rate increase and then vote on the rates during a regular city meeting. Once the construction and final hookup is complete, the line will be turned over to the City of Chrisman and we will be responsible for the upkeep, service and repairs. Since it is a brand new line, we don’t expect any major problems, but in the case of something that we would not be able to repair due to lack of resources, we may be in the situation to have to rely on an outside contractor to complete the repairs. That contractor would be chosen on availability and how soon they would respond. Since that will be our water source, we will use whoever can get here fast and have the equipment to complete the job.
Q: What is the plan for the dilapidated houses around town? What kind of schedule does the city have for getting them dealt with? How long do we have to wait to see some progress on them?
A: Within the next few weeks, the house on South Illinois will be demolished and cleaned up and when that is completed and we build up more money, we will move to the next problem. Several property owners have demolished houses within the last two weeks. One on West Madison and one on North New York. It is the property owner’s responsibility to clean up these problems, but occasionally that doesn’t happen for various reasons. That’s when we start the legal proceedings to remedy the problem. When the gambling machines became a legal business, the City receives money from those machines that are operated within city limits. I set that new money aside from the very beginning to use solely for property clean up or demolition.
Q: Does the city have funds to put towards re-painting buildings on the square and making our town look better?
A: The City does not have money/funds set aside to repaint buildings on the square or anywhere else. Remolding, painting, repairs, etc are the responsibility of the property owner. I don’t know if there are any grants available for such projects, but I will look into it.
Q: What happened to the idea of getting light poles down Madison and Monroe?
A: New street lights for Madison and Monroe. Last I knew, we were waiting on prices.
Q: Is there anything that can be done to enforce homeowners to clean up their property?
A: When property gets in terrible or unkempt state, we send the property owner a registered letter and give them so many days to correct the problem. After a certain amount of time and if nothing has been accomplished, we go to the next step that involves the city attorney and legal proceedings.
Q: The city used to fog for mosquitoes. It seems that this is no longer being done. Why did this stop and is there any chance this could happen again in the future?
A: The City used to fog for mosquitoes years ago. But as people quit or retired that left no one with the license to spray. Currently, we have an employee ready to test for his license. Once he as passed the test and has a current license, we plan on using the fogger again. We still have it!
Q: What do you know about the wind farms they are wanting to bring to Edgar County? How is it going to impact Chrisman?
A: No one has approached me about the new wind farm. I don’t see it directly affecting Chrisman as a whole. I suppose it could create some temporary jobs, but it will impact the view and skyline wherever they install it.
Q: All small towns have lost tax revenue from small business, any new economic development from businesses to residential? Years ago there was an economic council for economic development, has that been considered again and would you be open to it in the future?
A: All cities and small towns have lost tax revenue, jobs, businesses, and residents especially while we battle the COVID pandemic. Hopefully, the years to come will help everyone recover and return to a better, normal life.
Q: How has the alcohol prohibition being repealed affected the city?
A: Actually ending no alcohol sales in Chrisman has not posed any major problems and the money generated from the gaming machines allow us to clean up dilapidated properties without having to raise taxes to do it.
Q: With the new construction of the pavilion, is there anything that you would like to see done where the park could be better utilized by the citizens to improve use of the park?
A: Our new pavilion is close to being completed. I hope everyone uses our facilities for their reunions, picnics and fun family gatherings. We have a reservation sheet in the office for anyone wanting to use the facility or parks.
Q: What is the city policy for building permits or a residential permit? What’s the cost? Procedure?
A: The city requires a building permit for exterior remolding, fences, demolition, new structures, etc. A permit can be obtained at the City office and is based on price of project.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being the Mayor? What’s the biggest challenge that you face?
A: Two of the biggest challenges that we faced was the water main projects and the sewage treatment plant renovations and being able to secure some grant money for both projects. Which we did. The water coming from Paris will benefit the City for many, many years and eliminate several problems that we faced with our current water supply. The sewage treatment plant has not been modernized since the 70’s and we are under a court order to eliminate the problems at the aging plant. Along with the construction project, the Washington Street lift/pump station and service line to the treatment plant will be replaced. Also a new generator is being installed to supply the power for the pump station during power outages. This will prevent sewage backups and support normal use. These improvements are not just for today, but to insure Chrisman has infrastructure, water supply and sewer systems to support the families and this city for years to come.
Q: What are some of the biggest positives of our community?
A: Chrisman is such a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We have so many positives that sometimes are taken for granted. Such as two banks, an ambulance service, a great fire department, police coverage, health care facilities, a great school district, several independently owned businesses around the square and around town, restaurants, antique shops, mower shops, a local paper, a nursing home, a wonderful library and many more. Not to mention all the great people who live, work and own businesses here. Sometimes when you are in even bigger towns than Chrisman, look at all the empty buildings and run down conditions and come back home where we are still a small community holding our own.
Q: What are your future plans? When is your term up?
A: I get asked weekly, sometimes daily, if I am going to run for Mayor again. I have been Mayor for a long, long time, maybe the longest elected serving Mayor in Chrisman’s history. It is a job that requires patience, knowledge, sincerity and the ability to look at the future not just the present and not dwell on how it used to be in the past. It’s a great community to live in and be a part of! And yes, I may run again.
Q: Do you have a plan for growth in the community?
A: I am always looking for new businesses to come to town due to last year. I concentrate on keeping what we have and supporting them any way possible.
Q: How could we invite new businesses to come to our community?
A: Any new business looking at or moving into Chrisman will get any incentives that we can give.
We want to thank Mayor Owen for taking the time to answer our questions and we thank him for many years of service and for making our town one of the best small communities to live in.